Oxford AASC: Photo Essay

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PHOTO ESSAY

Frederick Douglass

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Denby shot to death.

Courtesy of Snark/Art Resource, New York.

This image from Life and Times of Frederick Douglass shows the death of Bill Denby, a slave who was shot to death by one of Edward Lloyd's overseers. Although Douglass did not witness this event as he had the whipping of the ostler Barney, he nevertheless wrote of it as an example of the brutal punishment and the lack of justice for enslaved blacks. According to Douglass's account, Denby "offended this Mr. Austin Gore, and in accordance with the usual custom the latter undertook to flog him. He had given him but few stripes when Denby broke away from him and plunged into the creek. . . . Gore raised his gun deliberately to his face, took deadly aim at his standing victim, and with one click of the gun the mangled body sank out of sight, and only his warm red blood marked the place where he had stood."

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