A Negro That Prefers Slavery – The Chattanooga Daily Times, 1908

A Negro That Prefers Slavery – The Chattanooga Daily Times, 1908

Henry Strother, of whom I am about to write, voices the sentiments of the greater majority of ex-slaves. Of average
height, somewhat feeble in movement, of a bronze color with snow white hair and beard, Henry will tell you with that
politeness characteristic only of good raising that he was born May 20, 1813, about four miles above Austin station
on the Spartanburg, Union and Columbia railroad, and the dividing line between Newberry and Lexington counties,
S.C.: that he belonged to Miss Lucy S- and was her coachman for fourteen years. Miss S- married George Metts.
Henry was a miller for about seven years and-was then given the general supervision of the plantation. In a division
of the slaves Henry went to Dr. John Metta and was going to he taken by his master to Mississippi. His young “missus”
(Miss S-), however, did not want him to go especially because his (Henry’s) wife was Miss S-‘s maid, and he was,
therefore. exchanged for another negro, to William Young, of Laurens county. Mr. Young had a son George who
entered the confederate army and with him Henry went to Pocotalligo, S.C., where he remained as body servant
for four months during the closing days of the civil war. After being made free, he went to Chester county, where
he remained until about 1890, when he went to Blacksburg, S.C., where he now lives. During his younger days he
was quite a fiddler and often played “fer de white f’oks” and also for the negroes. when permitted. He was never
in but one fight. That was when about 20 years of age and at a corn shucking. The trouble was about a colored
damsel. He got the best of (according to his statement) the three men, though nearly killed in the fight, and finally
married the woman about whom the fight had occurred. During all his 94 years he was never in a court as defendant,
witness or spectator until about April. 1905, when he was a witness in the federal court at Greenville, S.C., in a case
where a youtig negro, representing himself as a pension agent and special representative of President Roosevelt,
claimed that he could (for a consideration) secure a pension from the government for all old ex-slaves.

Henry was the first witness of about fifteen old negroes-men and women-to go before the grand jury. The impression made
was such that no other witnesses were called, and the foreman took in a collection amounting to several dollars, which was presented to the old negro. As he emerged from the room the expression of delight and pleasure on his honest and kindly
old face was indescribable and touching. The young negro pleaded guilty and is now serving his sentence in the federal
penitentiary at Atlanta, Ga. In the town of Blackshnrg Henry and his good old wife live in an cabin which, with a small tract
of land, they own and which furnishes them with all the vegetables and the like they need. “Uncle Henry,” as he is known
is the sexton of several of the churches of the white people, and while he appreciates the kindness shown him by the white
people young and old, he values above everything else a small Bible given him by his young “missus.” In that book, which
he safely keeps in an old trunk, his name and the date of his birth appears in the handwriting of the young lady to whom he
beloned and to whose example and training are due the good life and character of this old negro. There is nothing that gives
him greater pleasure than describing the delights and pleasures of slavery. If there is one thing that constantly enters into
his prayers, it is of his young “missus” and her innumerable acts of kindness to him. Without a moment’s hesitation. he will
today tell you that he would gladly return to his earlier life-slavery, though it be In politeness he cannot be outdone. For many
of those of his race, born since the war, he has but the utmost contempt, firmly believing that many of those who escape
death at the end of a hempen rope become inmates of the jails and penitentiaries.

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