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Midterm Essay - Mohamed Rajani Dr Kay Branagan AAS 103A...

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Mohamed Rajani Dr. Kay Branagan AAS 103A March 9, 2003 Midterm Essay: Free Man of Color by Willis A. Hodges and “Slavery Days in Old Kentucky: A True Story of a Father Who Sold His Wife and Four Children” by Isaac Johnson The era of slavery in the United States is widely documented. Generally seen today as one of the darkest periods of U.S. history, there was enormous support for slavery since its inception in the early 17 th century, especially from the whites in the southern and Border States. Slavery transcended all moral grounds during the time. The justification was that moral responsibility lay amongst human beings. The slaves, mostly blacks, were not considered as human beings, a sentiment that comes to light in one of the books I shall be introducing in this piece. In light of this egregious attitude, slavery was justified and slaves had an obligation to do as their “Masters” commanded. Of course, the enormous financial rewards their free labor brought to the slave holders further validated the concept of slavery. In the following piece, I shall provide a critique of two authors extensively affected by the slavery era despite being on separate ends of the spectrum. Free Man of Color is an autobiography written by Willis Augustus Hodges of his experience in the slave state of Virginia. While he acknowledges the oppression against those bonded, he makes an attempt to bring to light the oppression against the free men of color in Virginia. Hodges was born to a privileged family in Blackwater, Princess Anne County, Virginia
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on February 12, 1815. Although slavery had been part of his ancestry, his parents were free. Hodges gives an exhilarating account of the slavery days in his county. “Slavery Days in Old Kentucky: A True Story of a Father Who Sold His Wife and Four Children” is a short pamphlet by Isaac Johnson, one of the four children sold to slavery. It provides a heartening account of his family being separated by the evils of the slave trade. Johnson’s father, Richard Yeager, fathered four children with his slave Jane who was brought from the island of Madagascar, off the south eastern coast of Africa. Johnson was the second of the four children. The fundamental difference between the two narratives basically lies in the fact that Hodges was a free man of color whereas Johnson was sold to slavery at a tender age of 7. Both of them, perhaps from different perspectives, suffered from the evils of slavery. While the white supremacists constantly created havoc in the Hodges family, Johnson was having a hard time acclimatizing to the his new role as a slave.
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