Slavery - a Cruel Institution

Topics: Slavery / Pages: 9 (2052 words) / Published: Oct 9th, 1999
Slavery as a Cruel Institution Cruelty can be defined as an inhumane action done to an individual or group of people that causes either physical or mental harm. Slavery, at its very core, was a cruel and inhumane institution. From the idea behind it to the way that it was enforced, it degraded the lives of human beings and forbade the basic liberties that every man deserves under the Constitution of the United States. Three major areas where cruelty was especially prevalent were in the slaves working conditions, living conditions, and loss of fundamental freedoms. Working conditions for slaves were about as bad as can possibly be imagined. Slaves worked from dawn till dusk and sometimes even longer. Solomon Northrup describes his experience as a slave on his Louisiana plantation: The hands are required to be in the cotton field as soon as it is light in the morning and with the exception of ten or fifteen minutes, which is given them at noon to swallow their allowance of cold bacon, they are not permitted a moment idle until it is too dark to see, and when the moon is full, they often times labor till the middle of the night (Northrup 15). The slaves lived in constant fear of punishment while at work, and it was that fear that drove them to obey. Northrup continues to say that, "No matter how fatigued and weary he may be…a slave never approaches the gin-house with his basket of cotton but with fear. If it falls short in weight—if he has not performed the full task appointed him, he knows he must suffer" (10). He goes on to explain that after weighing, "follow the whippings" (10). This was not the end of the workday for a common slave though. Each slave had his or her own respective chores to do. "One feeds the mules, another the swine—another cuts the wood, and so forth (Northrop 11). Then there were jobs to do in the slaves' quarters, jobs that were necessary for their basic needs and survival: Finally, at a late hour, they reach the


Bibliography: Drew, Benjamin. A North-Side View of Slavery. Boston: 1856. Genovese, Eugene. Roll, Jordan, Roll: The World the Slaves Made. New York: Random House, 1972. Halasz, Nicholas. The Rattling Chains. N.Y.: Van Rees Press, 1966. Henson, Josiah. Uncle Tom 's Story of His Life: An Autobiography of the Rev. Josiah Henson. London: 1877. Northrup, Solomon. Twelve Years a Slave: Narrative of Solomon Northrup. Auburn, N.Y: 1853. Roark, James. Masters without Slaves. New York: Norton and Company, 1977. Stroyer, Jacob. My Life in the South. Salem, Mass.: 1898.

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