Henry Bibb

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Shaniqua Jones
HSTAA 225 Sec. AD
November 21, 2007
Biographical Essay Assignment

It was a hot blistering summer day not a leaf in sight or a hint of shade to be found. Mouth is dry as cotton from thirst and hands bleeding and blistering from a hard days work, exhausted from fatigue and hunger, because Master had me out here since the crack of dawn. Tending to the crops in the field and told me not come until every last crop has been tended which is about three football fields long. This is some of the Vigorous work that slaves had to endure. Slavery is a big part of American history. Many of the African Americans you see today are descendants of the 500,000 plus Africans who were sent to North America as slaves. To work the degrading lower class works of the Europeans with no wages or dignity to have. Slavery had existed in America for almost 250 years. In the United States, slaves had no rights. According to the Constitution, a slave was considered three-fifths of a person. A slave could be bought and sold just like a cow or horse. Slaves had no say in where they lived or who they worked for. They had no representation in government. Slaves could not own property and were not allowed to learn or be taught how to read and write. Slavery came to an end in 1865 when the 13th Amendment came into play after the end of the Civil War. One of those 500,000 slaves was Henry Bibb an American slave. Henry Bibb’s story the Narrative of the Life and Adventures of Henry Bibb, An American Slave, illustrates a slave’s enduring struggle for freedom. The greatest obstacles he confronted was white society’s story that slavery fit into the natural order of the world. Every sign of resistance was a threat to this story, and whites felt that this needed to be eliminated with whatever violence was necessary. Masters, Slaved Holders, and White Southerners wanted to believe there slaves were content in what they set a side as the natural order of life, because if the slaves were content then that meant that the slaves accepted what whites said was there place in the world. Every rebellion or form of resistance sent a message to the white society that there story or way of life was a lie. Whites wanted to believe that slavery was a justifiable cause. Some of the reasons it was seen as a justifiable cause was Religion, the pro-slavery book, Class, Order, and many other ridiculous reasons that they came up with. They had told themselves this “story” for generations and generations to come that, they somewhat convinced themselves that this way of life was acceptable. They believed anything unlike this was not the natural order of the way things were supposed to be. One white man by the name of James Henry Hammond went as far to say that: “In all social systems there must be a class to do the menial duties, to perform the drudgery of life. That is, a class requiring but a low order of intellect and but little skill. Its requisites are vigor, docility, fidelity. Such a class you must have, or you would not have that other class which leads progress, civilization, and refinement. It constitutes the very mud-sill of society and of political government; and you might as well attempt to build a house in the air, as to build either the one or the other, except on this mud-sill. Fortunately for the South, she found a race adapted to that purpose to her hand. A race inferior to her own, but eminently qualified in temper, in vigor, in docility, in capacity to stand the climate, to answer all her purposes. We use them for our purpose, and call them slaves […] We are old-fashioned at the South yet; slave is a word discarded now by "ears polite;" I will not characterize that class at the North by that term; but you have it; it is there; it is everywhere; it is eternal.” (James Henry Hammond’s “Mud Sill” speech, 1858.) White Southerners felt that slaves should accept there place and be happy, or at least content....
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