Whipping Post, Downtown

by Tim Gilmore, 6/17/2012

The last complete history of the city was published almost 100 years ago. As so many Southern towns once had municipal whipping posts, where slaves and even free blacks would be pilloried and whipped, T. Frederick Davis, the author of History of Jacksonville, Florida and Vicinity, argues that those who wonder and gossip about where Jacksonville’s whipping post was located are simply silly. Furthermore, he argues that slavery wasn’t so bad, since some slaveholders mistreated their slaves just like some parents mistreat their children.

On page 307, he writes, “The town had no regular whipping-post, where the slave was beaten into unconsciousness and left with his head hanging upon his chest to be viewed by the passing residents. All that sort of thing is fiction.” Slaves were simply property, he adds, arguing that injuring them wasn’t the purpose of punishing them. “That there were cruel masters there is no doubt, but they were no more representative of the slaveholding Southerner than the cruel parent is of the American people today.” It makes you doubt T. Frederick Davis ever read Frederick Douglass, or if so, whether Davis thought Douglass just needed a little extra punishment.

It also makes you wonder exactly where the whipping post was located.