The Narrative of the Life of Frederick Douglass Chapter 4
Mr. Austin Gore replaces Mr. Hopkins as overseer. Douglass does not know the reason for the change but guesses that Mr. Hopkins might have lacked the severity that Colonel Lloyd desires in an overseer. Mr. Austin Gore has all the qualities of a first-rate overseer. He follows the maxim, "'It is better that a dozen slaves suffer under the lash, than that the overseer should be convicted, in the presence of the slaves, of having been at fault.'" Chapter 4, pg. 65 In one instance, a slave by the name of Demby, while being whipped by Mr. Gore, plunges himself into a creek, refusing to come out. Mr. Gore threatens that he will shoot him if he does not come out on the count of three. After counting to three with no success, Mr. Gore cold-bloodedly shoots and kills the poor slave. When asked by Colonel Lloyd and Captain Anthony why he did what he did, he replies that if a slave is able to get away with disobedience, then all the slaves will follow his example and it will mean freedom for the slaves. His defense is accepted and he receives no further censure. Mr. Gore's reputation as an excellent overseer spreads.
Douglass laments that in Talbot county, Maryland, killing a slave is not treated as a criminal offense. He tells of a man who kills two slaves, one by hacking him to death with a hatchet. Although he brags about the grisly murders, he is never prosecuted. A woman reportedly beats Douglass's cousin to death with an oak stick for having fallen asleep while watching the woman's baby. This murder does produce a sense of horror in the community, but not enough for the perpetrator to come before the court. Another time, an old slave of Colonel Lloyd is shot to death for unknowingly trespassing onto private property. The murderer goes to Colonel Lloyd to explain what happened and the whole matter is hushed up. It becomes a common saying among the little white boys that "it was worth a half-cent to kill a 'nigger,' and a half-cent to bury one." Chapter 4, pg. 69