The Slave Family by John W. Blassingame
John Blassingame's essay entitled "The Slave Family" analyzes the composition of the nineteenth century slave family in America. The essay offers a perspective into the lives of slaves including their hardships, trials, and their plight for a sense of commonality. The essay begins with a sex ratio comparison between American slaves and slaves in other areas, such as Latin America, Brazil, and Cuba. It states that the male to female ratio was significantly more proportionate in the United States compared to the other areas. This suggests that there was a definite capability for stable family units amongst American slaves. However, as Blassingame pointed out, the factors that inhibited slaves from achieving utopian family ideals were many. He gives animation to those concepts of the slave family that have a tendency to lay still in history. More indirectly, the essay exhibits some features between roles and relationships between "master" and "slave" that sort of shroud in irony the entire institution of slavery.
In comparison to other slave populations, indeed a more proportionate sex ratio did enable a more monogamous atmosphere amongst American slaves. Still, one of the first points that Blassingame points out is even though legally, slave families had no legal validation, the unit served as the vein of subsistence. A major point in the essay was the value that the family had to the slave. A slave's family provided an escape portal to the harsh realities he faced each day. In his family, he found all those components that offered him a bit of solace and comfort; he lived in a world where he found absolutely none. Inside the mean walls of a slaves cabin, the most basic functions were carried out. Children were raised and parents trained them for the lifestyle they would soon carry out. As Blassingame put it, parents could "cushion the shock of bondage for them...help them to understand their situation."...
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