Hired Out

Author: Cathy Moore

ISBN 978-1-951985-47-9 (softcover);
978-1-951985-48-6 (eBook)

237 pages

America Murphy was a slave as was her bi-racial mother. They were owned by her father, Jeremiah, who operated a livery stable in mid-nineteenth century Lexington, Kentucky. Working from Jeremiah’s three room dwelling, America assisted her mother as laundress for her father’s clients.

America wished to read to enhance her status as a respected black servant, wondering how anyone could gain information by looking at a piece of paper. Nevertheless, with the help of Uncle Eli, she suggested that she could earn more money for her father and likewise educate herself by learning from books and papers. Following his own inquiries, Jeremiah negotiated a contract to lease America as a house slave. She was hired out.

Her journey as a rented slave began in 1854. Along the way, she earned the gratitude of slave owners and their children. Using her intelligence and kindness, she allied herself with fellow servants. She frustrated a would-be kidnapper and stymied another assailant. America learned to read between the color lines. Her budding romance with Jerry, a literate slave, survived hiring leases to three slaveholders and offered hope for the future when they jumped the broom in 1859.

Cathy Moore, a resident of Kentucky, was inspired to write Hired Out from her experience as a tour guide at the Kentucky History Center and her fascination with thoroughbred horse racing through her employment as a Keeneland Library assistant.

After graduating from Earlham College in Indiana, she began her professional career as an elementary school teacher and librarian in Illinois. She and husband Don moved to New Orleans and lived not far from the Fair Grounds Race Course where they delved into the culture, history, and practices of horse racing. They moved to Kentucky and immersed themselves in the thoroughbred milieu. Imagining the challenges of a bi-racial girl in antebellum Kentucky, Cathy researched and wrote the story of America Murphy, an actual native of the city of Lexington. Hired Out is a visualization of America's life as a slave living in a border state, across the Ohio River from freedom. America touches history through her later connections with the racing world. 

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