Armstead Barrett

The interviewer chose to record this interview as a first person narrative. In this excerpt, Armstead Barrett describes how his enslaver treated enslaved people.  Students may need help navigating the seeming inconsistencies in this excerpt, as Armstead Barrett states that the “master was good to us,” while also noting that his enslaver was making money selling enslaved people and did not provide enslaved people with basic necessities like clothing.  Armstead Barrett then goes on to recount how two enslaved people were brutally treated by an overseer, who they later killed.
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…Old master had a doctor for us when we were sick. We were too valuable. Just like the fat beef, master was good to us. Master would go to other states and get men and women and child slaves and bring them back to sell, because he was a speculator [a person who bought and sold enslaved people to make money]. He’d make them wash up good and then sell them.

Most time we went naked. Just have on one shirt or no shirt at all…

I remember a owner had some slaves and the overseer had it in for two of them. He’d whip them near every day, and they did all they could to please him.  So one day he comes to the field and calls one of them slaves, and that slave drops his hoe and goes over and grabs that overseer. Then the other slave cut that overseer’s head right slap off and threw it down one of the rows. The owner he fools around and sells them two slaves for $800.00 each and that is all the punishment them two slaves ever got.

Formerly enslaved person
Birth Year (Age)Interviewer
WPA Volunteer
Enslaver’s Name
Armstead Barrett1847 (Unknown)UnknownStafford Barrett
Interview LocationResidence StateBirth Location
TXTXHuntsville, TX
Themes & KeywordsAdditional Tags:
Overseer, Resistance, Violence, EconomicsFirst Person, Dialect, Witnessed Extreme Cruelty, Sold, Slave Traders, 


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