Joe Robinson

The interviewer records the life of Joe Robinson in the third person.  In the excerpt below, the interviewer recounts Joe Robinson’s comparison of how two different enslavers treated those they enslaved.  The teacher may need to help students critically consider what it means for an enslaver to be “very kind” to the people he is enslaving.  
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Source Description:

…[Joe Robinson’s] master, Gus Hargill, was very kind to him and all his slaves. He owned a large farm and raised every kind of vegetation. He always gave his slaves plenty to eat. They never had to steal food. He said his slaves had worked hard to permit him to have plenty, therefore they should have their share.

Joe, his mother, a brother, and a sister were all on the same plantation. They were never sold, lived with the same master until they were set free.

Joe’s father was owned by Rube Black, who was very cruel to his slaves, beat them severely for the least offense. One day he tried to beat Joe’s father, who was a large strong man; he resisted his master and tried to kill him. After that, he never tried to whip him again. However, at the first opportunity, Rube sold him.

The Robinson family learned the father had been sold to someone down in Louisiana. They never heard from, or of him, again…

Formerly enslaved person
Birth Year (Age)Interviewer
WPA Volunteer
Enslaver’s Name
Joe Robinson1854 (Unknown)Anna PritchettGus Hargill
Interview LocationResidence StateBirth Location
Marion County, ININKY
Themes & KeywordsAdditional Tags:
Family, Violence, ResistanceMason County, Third Person, Sold