“All I knowed, 'twas bad times and folks got whupped, but I kain't say who was to blame; some was good and some was bad,”1 explains a former slave. Emma Crockett was seventynine or eighty years old at the time of her interview. Many slaves had recollections of their lives as slaves. Some saw them as the “good ole days”2 and some couldn’t find much to remember other than their constant misery. The account of people who lived through such terrible lives helps us understand what it was truly like. Most of them didn’t really know what was going on; they just did as they were told. Another slave named Charity Anderson felt that the white folks were good to her and the others. She felt that she was supposed to serve white people. Slave owners couldn’t have agreed more with her. Slave owners thought that their slaves were their property and rightfully served them. The Antebellum period of 18001848 took away many things for slaves, but it also gave a few things in return. As a major turning point in American history, the Antebellum period gave slaves thought, opportunity, and freedom. Philosophers today will claim things about slavery as wild as to say they were privileged. The sane ones will claim that slavery was a morbid act and the transition out of it was possible through reformist thinking. The reforms were a time of thinking and clarifying reality. The reformists gave thought to everything; slaves were no exception. The strict societal rules were that women stayed home with the children and were not to worry about anything seriously. Men would leave their homes and work and gather with fellow wealthy, white farmers. This society was the Old South. Though the southerners had slaves, the women did not see it fair that their men were allowed to
Prine, Ila, Charity Anderson Mobile Alabama, Index of Narrative http://xroads.virginia.edu/~hyper/wpa/index.html, November 18, 2014 2
Prine, Ila, Charity Anderson Mobile Alabama, Index of Narrative, http://xroads.virginia.edu/~hyper/wpa/index.html, November 18, 2014
talk about things that truly mattered. Without any better thing to occupy their time, women started to go to revivals and learn what was right and wrong according to what was commonly believed. They began to realize that they were living immorally. They began to realize that it wasn’t just women who were being treated unfairly. The way they treated their slaves was wrong. The fact that they had slaves was wrong. The women gave thought to slaves and tried to voice their opinion. Many other people felt the same way about slavery and the society they lived in. Many men soon joined with the women’s ideas. Women of the time obviously did not have equal rights as men did. Men had the right to do nearly whatever they pleased. Many of the reformists felt that the best way to communicate such ideas would be through writing. Transcendentalists were those writers. Ralph Emerson and Henry Waldo Thoreau were very well known Transcendentalists. Thoreau wrote his book Walden about the society. Emerson worked with Thoreau often. On a specific occasion, Henry Thoreau is put in jail for refusal to pay taxes. He wondered why everyone went along with the laws without question. “Thoreau may have also brooded over the reaction of Emerson, who criticized the imprisonment as pointless. According to some accounts, Emerson visited Thoreau in jail and asked, “Henry, what are you doing in there?” Thoreau replied, “Waldo, the question is what are you doing out there?” Emerson was “out there” because he believed it was shortsighted to protest an isolated evil; society required an entire rebirth of spirituality. Thoreau was trying to make a very valid and in depth point to Emerson. Thoreau says, ‘Waldo, the question is what are you doing out there?’ Thoreau is making the point that the people who make up their society are ...
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