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Antebellum Slavery. Why did the institution of slavery command the loyalty of the vast majority of ante-bellum whites, despite the fact that only a small percentage of them owned slaves? (73)

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  • Why did the institution of slavery command the loyalty of the vast majority of ante-bellum whites, despite the fact that only a small percentage of them owned slaves? (73)

  • Slavery was the dominating reality of all southern life. Assess the validity of this generalization for TWO of the following aspects of southern life from about 1840 to 1860: political, social, economic, and intellectual life. (84)

  • Analyze the ways in which supporters of slavery in the nineteenth century used legal, religious, and economic arguments to defend the institution of slavery. (95)


I historical debate over slavery
I. Historical Debate Over Slavery the vast majority of ante-bellum whites, despite the fact that only a small percentage of them owned slaves? (73)

  • Extremely complex system, diff. to generalize: blind men + the elephant

  • What region, what product, scale of production, type of labor (house or field)

  • 1 in 8 slaves not used in ag: towns + cities, hiring out, skilled crafts, factories


3 Main competing views the vast majority of ante-bellum whites, despite the fact that only a small percentage of them owned slaves? (73)

  • 1) civilizing force (slavery as school): first held by slave owners, but then picked up by black leader (and former slave) Booker T. Washington

  • 2) Concentration camp (abolitionists): obliterated slave identity Sambo (racist implications)

  • 3) Site of oppression and Af-Am identity: crucial to creation distinctive black culture


Ii slave labor
II. Slave Labor the vast majority of ante-bellum whites, despite the fact that only a small percentage of them owned slaves? (73)

  • Issue of scale: 1850 typical slave exp. on large farm w/10+ slaves (75%)

  • 50% on plantations 20+ (remember why?)

    • Tricky point: opposite of white exp. of slavery

  • Masters required hard labor (begin kids age 5 or 6)

  • 11 or 12: work fields (w/ parents): majority remained in fields until too old

  • Old women care for children (white + black), old men care for livestock


A field slaves
A. Field Slaves the vast majority of ante-bellum whites, despite the fact that only a small percentage of them owned slaves? (73)

  • Work “from sun to sun”

  • Often sex-segregated work gangs, but women in fields as well

    • Racism of slavery: white women not to work in fields (even poorest tried to keep out)

  • Masters thought slaves racially lazy overseers/drivers to force labor physical punishment

    • Slaves had no incentive to work


B house slaves
B. House Slaves the vast majority of ante-bellum whites, despite the fact that only a small percentage of them owned slaves? (73)

  • 1 or 2 slaves out of 10

  • 90% of those women: cook, clean, care infants

    • Fascinating: young whites intimate contact w/blacks (as “authority” figure), then had to learn racism and superiority

  • Advantage of house: better rations, lighter physical work, better accommodations

  • BUT: constant surveillance + bore brunt white rage (esp. mistresses fear/knowledge of interracial sex, inability to control husbands)

    • Some (many) openly wished to go into fields live in slave quarters


The coon and the dog
The Coon and the Dog the vast majority of ante-bellum whites, despite the fact that only a small percentage of them owned slaves? (73)

“Every time I think of slavery and if it done the race any good, I think of the story of the coon and dog who met. The coon said to the dog, ‘Why is it you’re so fat and I am so poor, and we is both animals?’ The dog said ‘I lay round Master’s house and let him kick me and he gives me a piece of bread right on.’ Said the coon to the dog: ‘Better, then, that I stay poor.’ Them’s my sentiment. I’m like the coon, I don’t believe in ‘buse.”


Iii life in the quarters
III. Life in the Quarters the vast majority of ante-bellum whites, despite the fact that only a small percentage of them owned slaves? (73)

A. Space

  • Only few hundred yards from Big House, but privacy + separateness (whites didn’t want to constantly survey)

  • Crude buildings, but central/primary physical locale: slaves ceased to be primarily slaves took on more natural roles (family, music, religion)

  • Community + culture of their own enables survival in face of brutal + degrading system


  • Usually ½ day Sat and full day Sun the vast majority of ante-bellum whites, despite the fact that only a small percentage of them owned slaves? (73) personal chores, visiting, hunting, hire selves out, etc.

  • Some space, literal and metaphorical, outside slavery

  • Irony: fed white hegemony: system of control w/less need for violence give slaves enough space so that they control themselves tolerate system to protect what little them have


B expression of self
B. Expression of Self the vast majority of ante-bellum whites, despite the fact that only a small percentage of them owned slaves? (73)

  • Most important: developed forms self-expression psychological coping: songs, stories, etc.

    • Important source for slave perspective: literacy illegal few written documents

    • Accounts of oppression, slave anger, desire for freedom + vengeance, slave heroes, satirical songs


  • By 1850s: the Blues + circumlocution (talking around things) the vast majority of ante-bellum whites, despite the fact that only a small percentage of them owned slaves? (73)

  • Enabled free expression w/o fear of reprisal: could appear happy/compliant + still express discontent

    • Wearing a “mask” w/whites, take off when w/blacks


Pompey
Pompey the vast majority of ante-bellum whites, despite the fact that only a small percentage of them owned slaves? (73)

Pompey, how do I look?

O, massa, mighty

What do you mean “mighty,” Pompey?

Why, massa, you look noble.

What do you mean by “noble”?

Why, sar, you just look like one lion.

Why, Pompey, where have you ever seen a lion?

I see one down in yonder field the other day, massa.

Pompey, you foolish fellow, that was a jackass.

Was it, massa? Well you look just like him.


Malitis
Malitis the vast majority of ante-bellum whites, despite the fact that only a small percentage of them owned slaves? (73)

“They was seven hogs, fat and ready for fall hog-killing time. Just the day before Old master told off they was to be killed, something happened to all them porkers…

The masters asks: ‘What’s the illness with ‘em?’

‘Malitis,’ [the slaves] tells him, and they acts like they don’t want to touch the hogs… He says to keep all the meat for the slave families, but that’s because he’s afraid to eat it hisself account of the hogs’ got malitis.

‘Don’t you all know what is malitis?’ Mammy would ask the children when she was telling of the seven fat hogs and seventy lean slaves…

[A strong slave w/ a mallet] tapped Mister Hog ‘tween the eyes with the mallet, ‘malitis’ set in mighty quick, but it was a uncommon ‘disease,’ even with hungry Negroes around all the time.”


Iv family life
IV. Family Life the vast majority of ante-bellum whites, despite the fact that only a small percentage of them owned slaves? (73)

  • 1965: The Negro Family: The Case for National Action (Moynihan Report): black “matriarchy”/broken families historical effect of slavery harming modern black society and culture

  • Historians now think black family v. important institution despite restrictions/odds

  • How? 1) white masters encouraged “marriage” + families: a) morality, b) encouraged reproduction, c) stabilized quarters

    • Most runaways young, single men


  • Far more: 2) blacks committed to institution: long lasting relationships (most often broken by death)

  • Although also broken by sale: 1820-1860: 300,000 marriages broken by sale

    • “Weeping Time”: March 1857, Savannah, GA: 436 slaves sold in single racetrack auction

    • After CW slaves sought each other out across great distances (T. Morrison, Beloved)

  • Majority children raised 2 parent house in home w/single family

    • Some fathers on diff. plantations, but surprising degree in residence


  • Indirect evidence of importance of father: naming patterns relationships (most often broken by death)

  • Fathers did what they could to provide: hunting, farm on side, build furniture, etc.

  • BUT: father could not protect from white sexual predators, threat of sale, physical violence by white

    • 1.7 whippings/year: some argue shows little physical violence

    • But meant a family member beaten once a month


V slave religion
V. Slave Religion relationships (most often broken by death)

A. Religion of the Masters

  • New in 19th: 17th + 18th masters didn’t care about religious life of slaves allowed African religion to persist

  • 2nd Great Awakening: 2 new denominations: Methodists + Baptists

  • White M + B preached to slaves emphasizing meeker virtues, biblical basis of racial seg. + slavery

    • Marx: religion “opiate of the masses”

    • Blacks didn’t buy it for the most part even when appeared to


  • Some whites encouraged black ministers to preach to slaves relationships (most often broken by death)

  • “I jined the church ‘most 83 years ago when I was Major Gaud’s slave, and they baptizes me…When I starts preaching I couldn’t read or write and had to preach what Master told me, and he say tell them niggers iffen they obeys the master they goes to Heaven; but I knowed there’s something better for them, but daren’t tell them ‘cept on the sly. That I done lots. I tells ‘em iffen they keeps praying, the Lord will set ‘em free.”


B religion of the slaves
B. Religion of the Slaves relationships (most often broken by death)

  • Slave response white Ch’y: largely secret black religion (woods, quarters)

  • “My master used to ask us children, ‘Do your folks pray at night?’ We said ‘No,’ ‘cause our folks had told us what to say. But Lord have mercy, there was plenty of that going on. They’d pray, ‘Lord, deliver us from under bondage.”



Slave songs

He delivered Daniel from the Lion’s den, equality

Jonah from de belly ob de whale,

And de Hebrew children from de fiery furnace

And why not every man?

When I get to heaven, gwine be at ease

Me and my God gonna do as we please.

Gonna chatter with the Father, argue with the Son,

Tell um ‘bout the world I just come from.

Slave Songs



Vi african american culture
VI. African-American Culture magic, spirits, conjuring

  • Middle Passage literally stripped of all material culture

  • But since 1960s consensus that some survived: music, folk tales, magic, language + linguistic patterns (southern drawl: whites picked up African rhythms)

  • Whites tried to stamp out African culture, but survived in quarters and in evasions


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