Plantation Slavery Essay, Research Paper
Slavery on the Plantation
Slavery came about in the 1600s when the first slaves were shipped from Africa. They were kidnapped, traded for tobacco and other products, or sold by their tribes for violating laws. The richness of the South depended on slavery. Slaves were owned by one in four families. Whites controlled blacks, from their birth to death.
Slaves had no rights because by controlling them strictly, it would keep them from rebelling against their masters. The slaves could not communicate with each other or have meetings of any sort. The plantation masters required that the slaves carry a pass, and to leave the area it had to be approved. They were not allowed to carry knives, guns, or any kind of weapon. Property could not be owned by a slave. Harsher sentencing was given to blacks for crimes committed. When the need for soldiers arose during battle, some blacks were forced to enlist in the militia.
It was profitable to teach them skilled trades so they could be hired out to work during the crop off-season. Some slaves were doing more skilled work than impoverished whites. They were trained to be carpenters, masons, bricklayers, and iron workers. The construction of bridges, streets, canals, railroad lines, public buildings, and even private homes was possible by forcing slaves to labor.
A slave was considered lucky if he got to be a house servant. These were the aristocracy of the captive. Sometimes the plantation master formed an intimate friendship with his personal aide. The house slave was treated better and allowed to do such things as study music or write poetry. They were trusted with child care and had easier work to do than the field slaves. Sometimes the young boys and girls were even adopted into the family.
Field hands led a rough, hard life. They sowed, reaped, and planted a variety of crops like cotton and tobacco; although some were considered not suitable for growing some grains such as wheat, rye, and barley. The fortunate and most trusted field laborer got to care for the equipment and keep the gardens in shape. Shacks with no windows, bare dirt floors, and leaky roofs were all the workers had to retire in at night. The necessities allowed were corn or rice- maybe a bucket a week, and no meat. Occasionally a lucky individual would catch a rabbit or small animal to eat. Rags barely provided cover from the scorching sun, and the slaves did not have shoes. Overseers were cruel and vicious. The slaves were practically worked to death in eight to ten years.
The slave life on the Southern plantations was grim and dark.
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