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Thirty Years a Slave

Louis Hughes

Book Overview: 

Louis Hughes was born a slave near Charlottesville, Virginia to a white father and a black slave woman. Throughout his life he worked mostly as a house servant, but was privy to the intimate details and workings of the entire McGee cotton plantation and empire. In Thirty Years A Slave Hughes provides vivid descriptions and explicit accounts of how the McGee plantation in Mississippi, and the McGee mansion in Tennessee functioned--accounts of the lives of the many slaves that lived, suffered and sometimes died under the cruel and unusual punishments meted out by Boss and his monstrously unstable and vindictive wife. He described the profane manner in which this peculiar institution dehumanized, on a daily basis, not only the black man but even more so the white man. Ultimately, Thirty Years A Slave is an expression of Hughes’s desire to accurately describe the nature of the influence that the institution of slavery had on this country during the two hundred years in which it existed here, and the influence it continues to have on the heart and soul of a post-Civil War, post-14th Amendment United States.

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Book Excerpt: 
. . . the wool hats of the men—all contrasted with the dark faces of the wearers in a strange and striking manner.

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SLAVE MOTHERS—CARE OF THE CHILDREN.

The women who had young babies were assigned to what was considered "light work," such as hoeing potatoes, cutting weeds from the fence corners, and any other work of like character. About nine o'clock in the forenoon, at noon, and three o'clock in the afternoon, these women, known on the farms as "the sucklers," could be seen going from work to nurse their babies. Many were the heart-sighs of these sorrowing mothers as they went to minister to their infants. Sometimes the little things would seem starved, for the mothers could only stop their toil three times a day to care for them. When old enough to receive it, the babies had milk, the liquor from boiled cabbage, and bread and milk together. A woman who was too old to do much of. . . Read More

Community Reviews

An imperative piece of non-fiction that can be read thoroughly in a day. It dresses up nothing and resolves only to tell the whole truth of Louis’ life and toils. Slave memoirs like this give shocking insight into the persistence of many ideas and beliefs of slaveholders into the present. You feel g

Why so cruel? The slave owners were simply enlightened, progressive, materialists who either prefigured or embraced the dogmas of Darwinism, with its concomitant racial ranking, and Nietzscheism, wherefore, they knew themselves to be supermen, beyond good and evil. Besides, "It's the economy, stupid

Just incredible!

I’m so glad I came upon this gorgeous story and have found a solid footing in non-fiction with it.
Hope is a continuing theme in this book and and was a necessary tool. It seems to me, that adversity stirred action within the people who suffered in the way Hughes depicts here. If you

Recognizing the human rights struggle of my own time, I am taking a look back at the abolition of slavery in the United States to specifically examine the response of Christians -- white and black, north and south. Alongside a more theological view, I selected a few biographies to listen to people o

A thoroughly engaging read.

Encompasing autobiography. Impressive read. Written in a matter of fact style that relates details of harsh injustices without judgement. Many interesting facts of southern economy, house builds, production needs, etc. The writing style is not composed in an emotional vein even though the stories to

Listened to the Audio book.

A first account view on what it was like to be traded and treated as a slave before, during and after the Civil War. It has graphic recounts of violence faced by those trapped in the brutal practice. Told in a chronological order and focusing on various aspects of "a day i

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