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African Americans at Mid-Century

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1 African Americans at Mid-Century
Chapter 20 African Americans at Mid-Century

2 North (Free) vs. South (Slave)
Slaves’ legal status was the same as property. Slaves did not have the same rights as free people and could be bought and sold. Rural slaves worked on farms and plantations in the South. Urban Slaves lived in cities and were hired out to factories, mills and workshops. Their wages were given to their owners. Half of all free African Americans lived in the South. Free African Americans in the South were not allowed to work in certain jobs. Most worked as laborers, craftspeople, or household servants. Free African Americans in the North held low paying jobs, were not allowed to vote, were denied entry in public schools and faced discrimination by whites. Despite discrimination, some formed churches, schools, and other organizations.

3 II. Economics of Slavery
Cotton Cotton Gin Made cotton a cash crop 1790 – 3,000 bales – 4 million bales Supply & Demand Price of cotton increased – slaves more valuable to owners

4 Working & Living Conditions of Slaves
Slaves worked on farms of various sizes. ¾ of all slaves were field hands. Others worked as seamstresses, carpenters, blacksmiths, cooks or servants. Work started at six years of age. Slaves lived in crowded cabins and were provided enough to stay healthy for work. Slaves were given clothing allowances for a year. These clothes were poor quality and when they wore out they had to go naked until the next allowance was given. Slaves were poorly clothed and housed compared to white southerners, but were more likely to receive medical attention.


6 V. Controlling Slaves Punishment Slave Breakers
beating, whipping, branding Punishment often kept them from being able to work right away Caused greater rebellion Slave Breakers Used when slaves did not learn lesson fear, violence and overwork


8 VI. Resistance to Slavery
Day-to-Day Resistance Quiet acts – pulled down fences, broke tools, damaged crops, snuck food Avoidance – pretending to be sick, insane, blind Deadly – fires, poison Open Defiance 1. Pushed too hard – refusal to work, rejected orders, violence

9 VI. Resistance to Slavery
Running Away Risks a) slave-catchers: mauled by dogs, whipped Methods Walked by night, hid by day Boats, trains with fake IDs Mailed in boxes, coffins Underground Railroad Members provided transportation and safe houses “conductors” risked lives helping slaves travel the “freedom train” - Harriet Tubman

10 VI. Resistance to Slavery
Rebellion Denmark Vesey Charleston, SC Authorities learned of plan to lead revolt Vesey and 30 slaves arrested and hanged Nat Turner Virginia Turner and followers armed with axes and guns set to kill every white person they could find 2 days later – 57 people had been hacked to death

11 VII. Slave Families & Communities
Legal Issues Slave marriages not recognized therefore slave families did not exist a) Created own weddings – tradition of jumping the broomstick Control of children rested with master Lessons for Children Silence around whites Obedience Respect themselves and members of slave community

12 VIII. Leisure Time Activities
Quilting Bee Created much needed bedding for family Quilting Feast & Dance After sewing was done Homemade instruments Sundays Religion Recreation – eating, hunting, fishing, dancing, singing, gambling

13 IX. Slave Churches Slaveholder’s Church Invisible Church
Slaves encouraged to attend Masters read Bible to workers a) Preached obedience to both heavenly and earthly masters Invisible Church Met in slave quarters Told stories of Moses leading people out of slavery Sang spirituals expressing desire for freedom

14 X. African American Culture
Songs & Spirituals Rhythms and harmonies of Africa but speak realities of slavery Slave Dances 1. Escaped cares, expressed feelings, refreshed spirits African Legends & Folktales 1. Br’er Rabbit – rabbit always outwits the larger animal (symbolic of slave-master relationship?)

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