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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 started to end slavery Free blacks increased in number, but most were still slaves. 1800, 89% of blacks are slaves. Life Under Slavery.

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the first emancipation
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
life under slavery
Life Under Slavery
  • The Expansion of SlaveryWhitney’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
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
slave labor in agriculture
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
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
Sugar: LA, Missouri. Required constant labor. Hard work. Deadliest. Mostly men-no families
  • Cotton: Most important crop of the South. All day work.
price of slaves increases
Price of Slaves Increases
  • 1830s, male = $1,250
  • 1860, male = $1,800
  • Expensive
  • For the very wealthy
  • 1/4 of whites own slaves
house servants skilled slaves
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
domestic slaves cont
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
urban and industrial slavery
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
industrial slavery
Industrial Slavery
  • Often employed slaves from urban areas
  • Men, women and children worked in textile mills in GA, SC
  • Worked in factories
domestic slave trade
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
Slaves would be threatened…”Sold down the river”
  • Sent down Mississippi as punishment.
  • Slavery was worse in the South
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
“Coffles”: Most victims of trading moved on foot in groups called cofffles.
  • Chained or roped together
  • People are making tons of money on this
slave families
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
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”
sally hemmings
Sally Hemmings
  • African American Jefferson’s what to be buried at Montechello along with all Jefferson’s white children and family.
Many slave marriages endure despite dislocations and distance
  • Slave marriage ceremonies ranged from “taking up”
  • To “jumping the broom”
  • Various rituals to signify marriage
In spite of difficulties enslaved parents instructed their children in family history, religion and survival skills

Extended family relationships are very important

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
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
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
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
food and clothing
Food and Clothing
  • Diet: cornmeal, slat pork, self grown vegetables
  • Deficient in calcium, vitamin C, protein, iron
  • Chronic illness
Generally received clothing allotments twice a year (fall & spring)
  • Black women individualized clothing--dyed clothing to make it their own.
socialization of slaves
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
Uncle Remus Stories
  • Disney “Song of the South” 1948
  • Ideology of the “happy slave”
Divided consciousness: “two faced” behave one way in front of the master, and another way in front of other slaves
  • 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
  • Semisecret black church: church services run by slaves
  • Black preachers
  • Emphasized Moses: Deliverance from bondage
  • Services include singing, dancing and music
  • Kumbaya
the character of slavery
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
Other historians, however, have denied that paternalism had much to do with a system that rested on force.
  • 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
  • Fear of the lash: drove slaves to do the work and cooperate
  • Parents teach children how to behave to avoid punishment
resistance to slavery
Resistance to Slavery
  • Resistance took on many forms:
  • Work slowly
  • Break tools
  • Injured oxen, mules and other draft animals
  • Spit in food
  • Poisoned masters
  • 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
  • Arson
  • Suicide
  • Infanticide
  • Over 250 armed revolts recorded
  • Stono Rebellion
  • Gabriel & Nana Prosser (1800)
  • Nat Turner’s Rebellion (1831)
  • Denmark Vessey (1822)
  • Amistad (1839)