A shocking story is told about a nephew of Thomas Jefferson, Lillburn Lewis, of Livingston county, Kentucky, who confronted “George,” one of his 50 African captives, after the boy had allegedly broken a water pitcher:
Lewis then collected all the slaves into an out house, and ordered a rousing fire to be made. When the door was secured, that none might escape, either through fear or sympathy, Lewis opened the design of the meeting, namely, that they might be effectually taught to stay at home and obey his orders. All things being now in train, he called up George, who approached his “master” with the most unreserved submission. He bound him with cords, and laid him on a meatblock, and seizing a broad axe, proceeded to chop him into pieces, commencing at the ankles.
In vain did the unhappy victim call upon his “Master” to forgive him. In vain did he scream. Not a slave durst interfere. Casting the feet into the fire, he lectured the Slaves at some length. He then chopped off below the knees, and admonished them again, throwing the legs into the fire. He then chopped off above the knees, tossing the joints into the fire, lecturing as he proceeded. The next two or three strokes severed the thighs from the body. These were also committed to the flames. And so were the arms, head and trunk, until all was in the fire. Still protracting the intervals with lectures, and threatenings of like punishment, in case of disobedience and running away. The Slaves were then permitted to disperse.
When the monster returned to his house, Mrs. Lewis exclaimed, “Oh! Mr. Lewis where have you been, and what have you done!” She had heard a strange pounding, and dreadful screams, and had smelled something like fresh meat burning! He replied that he had never enjoyed himself at a ball so well as he had enjoyed himself that evening.