American Slaves

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American Slaves

Slavery was perhaps one of the greatest peculiar institutions of the South.  It was a system of labor extortion that the slaves had to endure albeit with enormous resentment they had for it. They probably directed their resentment and reservations to their masters, but it is unknown whether they found satisfaction from their situation. Slavery proponents stated that the slaves found satisfaction from bondage and servitude because their masters treated them with kindness, and relieved them all the responsibilities of free men (Stampp, 86).  However, this premise undermines the fact that most slaves lived in slavery since their birth and had never known life outside bondage. There are all indications that slaves merely tolerated their situation due to their lack of control. The slaves devised various ways such as positive action, open resistance, self-imposed ignorance, limiting their work load, flight, crime and legal avenues to deal with their situation proving that they “seldom wore their shackles lightly” (Stampp, 92).

A good number expressed their discontent through positive action. They submitted to their master because that is the only thing they could do. Some showed resistances towards their masters, “even the most passive slaves, usually before they reached middle age, flared up in protest now and then” (Stampp, 92). Slave masters considered resistance in slaves a “bad character” and it made them a liability to their owners. As one of the slave masters affirmed, ‘slaves were a “troublesome property”’ (Stampp, 92).

The slave also employed self-impose ignorance in order to cope with their situation. Ignorance is a character that slavery had taught them. As one planter noted, “slavery tended to make him callous to the ideas of honor and even honesty” (Stampp, 98). Slaves had a sound reason for letting their masters underestimate their intelligence because ignorance was highly valued. The slave master intent was to keep the slave in the state of ignorance and, therefore, the slaves were very shrewd to let the master believe they had succeeded (Stampp, 98). A planter from Virginia also noted, from his own experience, that “the slaveholders were victimized by the “sagacity” of the slaves who they mistakenly thought they understood so well” (98).  They knew slaves as fool a notion that slaves frequently used as an apology for neglect of duty.

Similarly, slaves chose to limit their service in many ways. The slaves stubbornly fixed their work quotas and resisted any attempt to increase their daily outputs. Some refused to learn a craft and becoming craftsmen, while others would fill their cotton with heavy material to increase the cotton bags’ weight and cover up for loafing. Slave masters noted the pushing a slave to work beyond the limit he sets for himself was never produc.............


Type: Essay || Words: 924 Rating || Excellent

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