V. Free Blacks: Slaves Without Masters
1. By 1860, free Blacks in the South numbered about 250,000. 2. In the upper South, these Blacks were descended from those freed by the idealism of the Revolutionary War (“all men were created equal”).
3. In the deep South, they were usually mulattoes (Black mother, White father who was usually a master) freed when their masters died. 4. Many owned property; a few owned slaves themselves.
5. Free Blacks were prohibited from working in certain occupations and forbidden from testifying against whites in court; and as examples of what slaves could be, Whites resented them.
6. In the North, free Blacks were also unpopular, as several states denied their entrance, most denied them the right to vote and most barred them from public schools.
7. Northern Blacks were especially hated by the Irish, with whom they competed for jobs. 8. Anti-black feeling was stronger in the North, where people liked the race but not the individual, than in the South, were people liked the individual (with whom they’d often grown up), but not the race.
VI. Plantation Slavery
1. Although slave importation was banned in 1808, smuggling of them continued due to their high demand and despite death sentences to smugglers
2. However, the slave increase (4 million by 1860) was mostly due to their natural reproduction. 3. Slaves were an investment, and thus were treated better and more kindly and were spared the most dangerous jobs, like putting a roof on a house, draining a swamp, or blasting caves.
* Usually, Irishmen were used to do that sort of work. 4. Slavery also created majorities or near-majorities in the Deep South, and the states of South Carolina, Florida, Mississippi, Alabama, and Louisiana accounted for half of all slaves in the South. 5. Breeding slaves was not encouraged, but thousands of slaves were “sold down the river” to toil as field-gang workers, and women who gave birth to many children were prized. * Some were promised freedom after ten children born.
6. Slave auctions were brutal, with slaves being inspected like animals and families often mercilessly separated; Harriet Beecher Stowe seized the emotional power of this scene in her Uncle Tom’s Cabin. VII. Life Under the Lash
1. Slave life varied from place to place, but for slaves everywhere, life meant hard work, no civil or political rights, and whipping if orders weren’t followed.
2. Laws that tried to protect slaves were difficult to enforce. 3. Lash beatings weren’t that common, since a master could lower the value of his slave if he whipped him too much. 4. Forced separation of spouses, parents and children seem to have been more common in the upper South, among smaller plantations. 5. Still, most slaves were raised in stable two-parent households and continuity of family identity across generations was evidenced in the widespread practice of naming children for grandparents or adopting the surname of a forebear’s master.
6. In contrast to the White planters, Africans avoided marriage of first cousins. 7. Africans also mixed the Christian religion with their own native religion, and often, they sang Christian hymns as signals and codes for news of possible freedom; many of them sang songs that emphasize bondage. (“Let my people go.”)
VIII. The Burdens of Bondage
1. Slaves had no dignity, were illiterate, and had no chance of achieving the “American dream.” 2. They also devised countless ways to make trouble without getting punished too badly. * They worked as slowly as they could without getting lashed. * They stole food and sabotaged expensive equipment.
* Occasionally, they poisoned their masters’ food.
3. Rebellions, such as the 1800 insurrection by a slave named Gabriel in Richmond, Virginia, and the 1822 Charleston rebellion led by Denmark Vesey, and the 1831 revolt semiliterate preacher Nat Turner, were never...
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