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The Nature of Slavery. The First Emancipation During the American Revolution slaves called for freedom (using revolutionary ideals) Most northern states.

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Presentation on theme: "The Nature of Slavery. The First Emancipation During the American Revolution slaves called for freedom (using revolutionary ideals) Most northern states."— Presentation transcript:

1 The Nature of Slavery

2 The First Emancipation During the American Revolution slaves called for freedom (using revolutionary ideals) Most northern states started to end slavery Free blacks increased in number, but most were still slaves. 1800, 89% of blacks are slaves

3 Life Under Slavery The Expansion of Slavery Whitney’s cotton gin (1793) made cotton cultivation profitable Influences the rapid and extensive expansion of slavery after the American Revolution “Trail of Tears” removal of indigenous people for cotton land

4 Vast increase in slaves in 1800’s Slave population increases 7 times between 1790-1860 Grew fastest in cotton producing states Alabama & Mississippi Virginia still has largest slave population Slavery looks much different in deep south

5 Slave Labor in Agriculture Geography and region shaped the slave experience (environment & work) 55% of slaves cultivated cotton 10% Tobacco 10% Sugar, rice, hemp 15% Domestic servants 10% Factories

6 Tobacco: Important in VA, MD, KY Difficult crop to produce-long growing season, careful cultivation Rice: Remained in SC, GA. Slaves worked according to the task system, allowing some slave autonomy. Families together

7 Sugar: LA, Missouri. Required constant labor. Hard work. Deadliest. Mostly men-no families Cotton: Most important crop of the South. All day work.

8 Price of Slaves Increases 1830s, male = $1,250 1860, male = $1,800 Expensive For the very wealthy 1/4 of whites own slaves

9 House Servants & Skilled Slaves 75% of slave workforce are field hands In order to keep plantations and farms self sufficient masters used slaves as house servants and craftsmen House Slaves: Often women, cook, clean, tend children, nurses. Men, butlers, gardeners. Work was sometimes less strenuous, but under constant supervision. Lived in mater’s house. Never get a break. On duty 24/7

10 Domestic Slaves Cont. House servants did not live in slave communities. (no slaves quarters) Skilled slaves were more elite than domestic/house slaves. They were carpenters, blacksmiths, millwrights, etc. “Hire their time” Frederick Douglass was a caulker -- gave % of wage to owner--mostly men

11 Urban and Industrial Slavery Most skilled slaves who hired their time lived in southern towns and cities Urban slaves: Worked for wages, could eventually buy freedom for themselves and family members--very rare

12 Women urban slaves worked as domestics, washer women Men as waiters and artisans

13 Industrial Slavery Often employed slaves from urban areas Men, women and children worked in textile mills in GA, SC Worked in factories

14 Domestic Slave Trade Expansion of slavery in south and west increased the domestic slave trade Owners sold men, women and children to slave traders Traders shipped slaves to slave markets in New Orleans and other cities Families torn apart




18 Slaves would be threatened…”Sold down the river” Sent down Mississippi as punishment. Slavery was worse in the South

19 Number of those traded was huge 1820-1860=50% of slaves were moved to the South Slave Prisons & Slave Pens Held in cities awaiting trade Humiliating process

20 “Coffles”: Most victims of trading moved on foot in groups called cofffles. Chained or roped together People are making tons of money on this





25 Slave Families Sought to preserve families Marriage was unbinding Most slaves could choose their own mates, although there is evidence that masters often did this Procreation Assumed men would be less rebellious

26 Reproduction of “human chattel” Thomas Jefferson: “I consider a slave woman who brings a child every two years as more profitable than the best man on the farm”

27 Sally Hemmings African American Jefferson’s what to be buried at Montechello along with all Jefferson’s white children and family.


29 Many slave marriages endure despite dislocations and distance Slave marriage ceremonies ranged from “taking up” To “jumping the broom” Various rituals to signify marriage



32 In spite of difficulties enslaved parents instructed their children in family history, religion and survival skills Extended family relationships are very important

33 High infant mortality: 50% of children born into slavery died before the age of 5 Diets lacked necessary nutrients High rate of disease Care of children often fell to the elderly or older children

34 House servants often took children with them to the master’s house On small farms women strapped their babies to them while they worked in the fields On larger plantations-elderly look after children Infanticide

35 Adults taught children about the realities of plantation life Children learned survival skills “careful what they said to whites” Children started doing “light work” at 5 or 6 55-65 years of free work out of one person

36 Sexual abuse of slave women & the impact of this on the family Long term relationships between women and their masters were common White southerners justified sexual abuse in several ways: Blame the women as being promiscuous, as jezebel Said they seduced white men Failed to note the impact of rape on black women Also failed to look at the inability of black men to protect their wives and daughters

37 Food and Clothing Diet: cornmeal, slat pork, self grown vegetables Deficient in calcium, vitamin C, protein, iron Chronic illness

38 Generally received clothing allotments twice a year (fall & spring) Black women individualized clothing-- dyed clothing to make it their own.

39 Socialization of Slaves Children are provided with skills to protect themselves Folktales Tricksters: Animals w/ human personalities Most famous: Brer Rabbit, who uses his wits to overcome threats from vicious antagonists Whites believe in the “Happy Slave” and likened slavery to a school and stated that they were protecting slaves

40 Uncle Remus Stories Disney “Song of the South” 1948 Ideology of the “happy slave”

41 Divided consciousness: “two faced” behave one way in front of the master, and another way in front of other slaves

42 Religion Protestantism: By the mid 19th century, most slaves practice In plantation churches, white masters told blacks that Christian slaves must obey their god and their masters

43 Religion Semisecret black church: church services run by slaves Black preachers Emphasized Moses: Deliverance from bondage Services include singing, dancing and music Kumbaya

44 The Character of Slavery Historians have debated the character of slavery for over 100 years First historians believed slavery was fantastic--like a school where masters were actually loosing money Portrayed as benign, paternalistic Helping slaves

45 Other historians, however, have denied that paternalism had much to do with a system that rested on force.

46 Punishment Masters often offered incentives to entice slaves to perform well. Yet slave labor is forced labor based on the threat of physical violence Whites believed slaves would not work unless they were threatened with the whip

47 Punishment Fear of the lash: drove slaves to do the work and cooperate Parents teach children how to behave to avoid punishment










57 Resistance to Slavery Resistance took on many forms: Work slowly Break tools Injured oxen, mules and other draft animals Spit in food Poisoned masters

58 Resistance Fought off attempts at violence Learned to read and write Practiced own religions Ran away Lived in maroon communities & with Native Americans Mounted violent rebellions

59 Resistance Arson Suicide Infanticide

60 Resistance Over 250 armed revolts recorded Stono Rebellion Gabriel & Nana Prosser (1800) Nat Turner’s Rebellion (1831) Denmark Vessey (1822) Amistad (1839)

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