Slave Culture

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Slavery is a stain in the history of the United States that will always be particularly remembered for the cruelty it exhibited. Up until 1865 slaves were imported in shiploads and treated as if they were merely cattle. On the farms slaves were given no mercy and had to work long, arduous days for nothing. Additionally they were often subject to cruel overseers who would beat and whip them on a regular basis. As brutal and destructive as the institution of slavery was, slaves were not defenseless victims. Through their families, and religion, as well as more direct forms of resistance, Africans-Americans resisted the debilitating effects of slavery and created a vital culture supportive of human dignity. Slave religious culture developed as soon as slaves began to settle on plantations as early as the 18th century. As large groups of slaves started to live on the same plantation for most, if not all, of their life they developed a community. Within this community religion almost always began to play a big role in daily life. In Africa the slaves had possessed their own religion within their own tribe, but in America they were forced to live with all sorts of Africans. So religion still played a vital role in these new slave communities, but consequently hybrid religions were developed that encompassed the diversity of Africans within any one plantation. During the early history, African American religion comprised of many “Africanisms” of which whites claimed as a pagan practices. These rituals and dogmas were variously described as Voodoo, Hoodoo, Witchcraft, and superstitions, and were particularly prominent among the Gullah speakers of South Carolina. Whites often commented on these "pagan practices," and fetishes, and were threatened by them. As a result, great effort was expended on eradicating these practices, and many were lost within a generation, and so slaves were quick to embrace the prevailing evangelical culture. They gravitated towards emotionalism

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