Abraham Lincoln: Vampire Hunter
How we cite our quotes:
It's worth noting that killing a slave was not considered murder, no matter the circumstances. It was merely "destruction of property." (1.16)
This book doesn't pull punches on slavery, opening up with a nice reminder that slavery is a Very Bad institution, founded as it is on the dehumanization of, well, humans. We haven't met any vampires yet (except for Henry in the Introduction, and he's so nice he hardly counts as a vampire), but we're already confronted with the terrible parts of history. America the beautiful?
I recall seeing a horse cart pass, filled with Negroes. There were several. All women, and of varying age. They were... shackled at the wrist and chained together on the cart bed, without so much as a handful of loose hay to comfort the bumps of the road, or a blanket to relieve them from the winter air. The drivers, naturally, sat on the cushioned bench in front, each of them wrapped in wool. My eyes met those of the youngest Negro girl, who was close in age to myself. Perhaps five or six. I admit that I could not look at her more than a moment before turning away—such was the sorrow of her countenance. (1.34)
This is Abe's first observation of slaves and slavery, and even early on Abe understands the inequality afoot. He definitely isn't a fan. The slaves are treated inhumanly, while the slave-traders/owners get all the sort of conveniences that people enjoy, and all Abe can do is notice the humanity of "the youngest Negro girl," who isn't so different from himself.
"Honored gentlemen, I am pleased to present the day's first lot." Upon this, the first Negro, a man of perhaps five-and-thirty years, took the stage and bowed heartily, smiling and standing tall in his ill-fitting suit (which looked to have been purchased for the occasion). "A bull, name of Cuff! Still in the prime of his strength! As fine a field hand as you are ever likely to see, and sure to sire a brood of sons with backs every bit as sound!" That this "bull" seemed so fervent in his hope of being bought— standing up straight, smiling and bowing as the auctioneer described his many uses—I could not help my pity and revulsion. (4.91)
This is Abe's first experience of a slave auction and it's pretty terrible. Cuff is described in animal terms: he's a "bull" (meaning he's male), sure to "sire" (which means to "father" and is often used with livestock) more slaves. Ugh. What really gets to Abe is not just the terrible dehumanization of the auction, but that Cuff is forced to participate in his own sale. But then, if Cuff is sick or weak, he's going to be vampire chow, which isn't exactly an appealing alternative.