Two centuries ago, University of Virginia students beat and raped enslaved servants, historians say

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tags: slavery, Virginia


Joined by several classmates, Turner Dixon and George Hoffman attacked the woman, “(accused) her of giving them a venereal disease … stripped her naked and beat her” bloody, as U-Va. professor Alan Taylor recounts in his new book, “Thomas Jefferson’s Education.” Her name is lost, but her age is known: 16.

When the woman’s owner – a local tavern keeper – complained to faculty, U-Va. professors verbally reprimanded the two ringleaders and wrote letters to their parents. Because Dixon and Hoffman “appeared sorry” and voluntarily paid the tavern keeper $10, professors declared the punishment sufficient, according to Taylor.

Records show a student who mishandled a library book earned harsher discipline, Taylor wrote.

While shocking today, the incident was unremarkable for its time and place, Taylor said in an interview. Throughout the first half of the 19th century, male students studying at Southern universities regularly mistreated, beat and raped the enslaved men, women and children who catered to their everyday needs, Taylor said. The brutal behavior was ignored or accepted by professors, administrators and local authorities.

Read entire article at Washington Post

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