Antebellum is defined at Dictionary.com as "Belonging to the period before a war, especially the American Civil War."1 In the Antebellum period in the South, many people owned slaves. In the south, plantations were "the most basic unit and the most vital element of the Southern antebellum economy."2 But at the heart of these plantations were the slaves. So vicariously, the slaves of the South were the most vital part of the Southern economy. Slaves, although taken from Africa, were still able to hold onto their religious traditions and beliefs. They would incorporate their traditions into the Christian belief structure that the south had already setup. They kept their dances, chants, songs, etc. by disguising them into their master's religion, thereby ensuring that it would be passed down from generation to generation.
The slaves weren't treated as even close to equals to their masters. Their masters would live in the mansion of the plantation, while the slaves would dwell in recklessly built cabins that were separated from the rest of the plantation. These quarters were where the African American culture began to take shape. They began to be inspired to want what the white man wanted, and what they were denied. Slave labor was handed out by what each slave itself was capable of. If a slave were to finish a job early, he would be able to get the rest of the day off for recreational purposes. Not only that, but if a slave were to finish two jobs in one day, then he would receive the next day off. This day was commonly referred to as a "Holiday." This rewards system created a more competitive edge to work in the fields, making the slave production increase. This also made the slaves more content, and less persuaded to run. On the other hand, there were punishments also. "Exceptional misbehavior also warranted the attention of the slavemaster and his wrath."2 The beatings, whippings, etc. were unpredictable. The beatings didn't need an explanation....
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