Although slaves usually received adequate nourishment, they had a plain and monotonous diet. They owned few clothes, and typically they lived in small, one-room cabins. Slaves’ Work Routine
Long hours in large work gangs characterized the slave work regime. Planters aimed to keep their hands busy all the time, but many slaves resisted overwork by slacking off whenever they could. Violence Against Slaves
Whippings occurred throughout the South, although generally more so on large farms than on small ones. The mental cruelty of slavery¾the hopeless sense of bondage and coercion with no hope for the future¾provided the cruelest element of the system. Slave-Master Relationships
Most slaves felt antagonism and hatred toward whites, feelings that bred resistance, bitterness, and distrust.
African Cultural Survival
African influence remained strong in the slave community, with slaves’ appearance, entertainment, and superstitions helping to provide them with a sense of their past. Slaves’ Religion and Music
Christianity offered slaves an important means of coping with bondage, and their faith helped them attain a sense of racial identity. Music, with its rhythm and with physical movement, became central to slaves’ religious experience. The Slave Trade and Separation
Family provided a central part of slaves’ existence, and they lived in the fear that members of their families might be sold to other masters. The Black Family in Slavery
Despite the fear of separation, slaves attempted and often succeeded in forming stable and healthy families.
Slave Resistance and Rebellion
Strategies of Resistance
Despite some examples of violent rebellions, most slaves practiced nonviolent forms of resistance, such as occasionally stealing food, negotiating for better working conditions, or temporarily running away. Nat Turner’s Insurrection
An educated black preacher, Nat Turner led a bloody but unsuccessful...