Fountain Hughes

By: DeShawn Mattox and Jacob Baker

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Background information

Fountain Hughes was born in the year 1848. Hughes was born into enslavement in Charlottesville, Virginia. In 1865, after the American Civil War, Hughes was freed. He died in Baltimore in 1957, living to be 109 years old. When asked about the slave lifestyle, Fountain responded and said, "If I ever had to be a slave again I'd take a gun and just end it all right away."

The effect of enslavement on Africans and their descendants

Enslaved Africans and their descendants were effected to a great extent. African families were not always able to stay together. Most families were split apart by the monthly slave trades and never to be seen again by each other. This could mean children were never able to spend time and get to know their parents or siblings. Imagine you're parents, siblings, family members being sold off to someone as a slave. In some cases the only people Africans knew were other slaves and their "owners." Sometimes parents had to even pay to keep their children. Mary Hughes, mother of Fountain Hughes had to hire her own son for a dollar a month while she was still a slave. That was the only way she could keep Fountain in her possession. Enslavement also affected the descendents because most African slaves lacked guidance from adult or parent figures. This causes ignorance and an absence of discipline. Because of enslavement the ignorance was passed down generation to generation.

How slaves sustained a sense of selfhood and cultural identity in slavemaster relationships

Although faced with many adversities with their "owners," slaves kept their selfhood and culture. Some examples of this is when slaves would try not to weep and coward when they were being whipped by their master. Slaves would be denied the right to sing even though it was a part of their culture, but they sang together. They would be severly punished. Also slaves secretly learned to read and write. Praying was not allowed for slaves, but they prayed anyway and did not let that get in the way of their relgious beliefs. Fountain kept his selfhood and pride when he worked for his master, "I worked and worked. Surprisingly with pride." This shows that Fountain obtained pride in his work and more importantly in himself. Even though some slave owners were crude and abusive, others were kind. Fountain's masters, "didn't treat them bad. And they were always satisfied." Since Fountain worked hard his master never sold him and kept him as his slave.

How slavery affected white people, even non-slave-owning

Slavery affected white people in many ways. Slavery was mainly focused on agriculture because of the vast amount of land and the value of crops. Slaves' labor would provide slave-owners with money and provide an enormous amount of white people with crops. Since so many slaves were working, it provided more crops in less time. Also they would produce clothing, blankets, and other housing utensils for white people. If the slave-owners did not have slaves it would be very difficult to have such a fast production rate and the slave-owners would have to pay their workers a much higher income. White people who did not own slaves would be immensly effected too. There would be a shortage in labor, which means a shortage in crops and other important materials. This would result in crops costing more because there is a higher demand than supply. Slavery did not only effect society's economy it also effected society's feelings and tolerance towards each other. For example, whites would look down in digust on Africans. Fountain hughes said, "When slavery was around, the white men, woman thought and told Africans they should be ashammed of who they are."

How slave laws changed over time, especially just before the civil war

In the early 1700's slavery was very strict and brutal. If a slave attempted to run away, that slave was faced with the death penalty. Also slaves were not paid or rewarded for their labor. In 1793 there was the Fugutive Slave Act which lawed slavery to take place in every state and if a female slave was to give birth the baby was the masters' property. By 1804 the northern states abolished slavery, and in 1807 the United States lawed that importing slaves is illegal. In 1850 there was another Fugistive Slave Act which stated if a slave was to get away the master of that slave could be fined $1,000, and could spend 6 months in jail. If the slave who ran away was caught they were wipped. In 1860 Abraham Lincoln ceased the expansion of slavery in the South. This made the South full of rage, which caused the Civil War. When The Civil War ended, slaves were freed. In conclusion slavery became less and less strict as time went on.

The aspects of slavery emphasized by abolitionists and freed slaves in their narratives

Abolitionists opposed slavery because they felt the "color of someones skin doesn't make the man." The abolitionists felt that it was immoral to own other people and enslave them. When giving their opinion on slavery, many abolitionists such as Abe Lincoln, referred to the Constition which states, "All men are created equally." Freed slaves strongly agreed with the abolitionists, of course. Except they felt stronger about the topic. Reading the narrative really made us think how hard it must've been especially when Fountain Hughes states, "If I ever had to be a slave again I'd take a gun and just end it all right away." The aspects on slavery are in common with each other, whether a slave or an abolitionists. Both were fighting for freedom.

How a free or slave state was determined

A free state was a state that prohibited slavery and no matter your physical characteristics or orgin, you were welcome. A slave state was a U.S. state that the excecution of slavery was legal. Whether or not a state allowed slavery, was based on a general aggrement the government of that state discussed. The people voted for their government of the state they lived in, knowing each nominee's aspect on slavery. Therefore, the people knew if slavery in their state was going to be denied depending on who they elected. In this case it's power in numbers.