Humor Item
March 13, 1858, page 175
The Difference. -- "Pompey," said a good-natured gentleman to his colored man, "I did not know till today you had been whipped last week." "Didn't you, massa?" replied Pompey; "I know'd it at the time."


In this joke, it is not merely slavery, but the violence of slavery that is considered a legitimate subject of humor. The joke also reveals the tendency to call slaves by a generic term, often of classical origin—Pompey, Caesar, or Cato. That served to undermine the individuality of the slave and to associate the slaveowner with the heritage and grandeur of the civilization of ancient Rome.


This site is brought to you by…
Website and all Content © 1999-2004 HarpWeek, LLC
Please report problems to