In pre-Civil War days in the southern plantations, whipping was one of the most common forms of punishment in the slavery system.
Enslavers needed to maintain order and project the position of authority; whipping was often considered an effective tool to enforce their ideas of the ideal society.
Knowing the enslaved people’s physical strength, an argument arose about whether the masters had to use it sparingly.
Otherwise, their slaves might fight back and escape. A whip was the difference between the master and servants for white southerners.
For the enslaved black people, it was a symbol of oppression rooted in the racism they couldn’t wait to abolish forcefully.
As part of the attempts to rid the country of slavery, the abolitionists successfully used photography as a medium of propaganda.
A portrait of a shirtless man, sitting sideways from the camera, severely wounded and scarred back from vicious whipping, became one of the most potent tools to campaign against slavery.
It accurately portrays a man named Gordon or Peter, who escaped his enslavement in 1863.
10 /10 The Scourged Back
Better known as “The Scourged Back” to most people, the famous photograph circulated in abolitionists’ print media in the 1860s.
It became an early example of propaganda photography in the United States and anywhere else in the world.
The New York Independent, one of the contemporary newspapers at the time, wrote that the image should be copied 100,000 times and distributed nationwide.
Photo historian Kathleen Collins explained that the person in the photo was named Gordon, an enslaved African-American who made a run for his life from Baton Rouge, Louisiana.
9 /10 Onions And Bloodhounds
By the time Gordon arrived at Baton Rouge in March 1863, he had taken refuge in a Union Army encampment.
Before that, it had been all hell to him. In the 10-day journey, he ceaselessly ran barefoot across fields and creeks.
Bloodhounds were all over his footsteps, tracking his every movement and direction. Some say Gordon had rubbed onions all over his body before the escape in the hope of deceiving the dogs.
When he finally reached the encampment, he was covered in mud and sweat. It was rough, but nothing compared to his ordeal as an enslaved person.