Slave Culture Essay, Research Paper
Slavery in America thrived and continued to grow because there was a scarcity of labor. Cultivation of crops on plantations could be supervised while slaves used simple routines to harvest them, the low price at which slaves could be bought, and earning profits as a bonus for not having to pay hired work. But in the beginning half of the 19th century a strong push for slavery’s final straw was coming. The people of the South tended to be more genteel, and seemed not quite adjusted to hard work, but more to giving orders. The idea of telling people how to do their work just seemed to fit all too well into this scenario.
Slaves lived under virtually unsuitable conditions. Douglass’ account of a slave’s life told of the trying times on the plantation. An allowance was given to the workers. A monthly allowance consisted of mostly of pork and corn meal but also some money. Yearly slaves were given clothes, a couple shirts, and two pairs of pants-one pair of pants for winter and one pair for the other times of the year. They were not given beds to sleep on but rather a blanket for the floor. On top of lack of basic necessities slaves were forced to work around the clock. If they were not at their total output for the minute their owners they would be forced by the whip and “encouraged” to work harder, as an owner might feel. They were always subject to profanity from their masters and treated more like horses. Just like horses they were bred to be strong, in the mindset of outputSlave owners would also sexually take advantage of women slaves.
Slaves turned to freedom for more than this reason though. Some were obsessed with being free and living a life where they were not told how to live-and who wouldn’t be? Then there were some that were treated so cruelly, that it forced them to run just to stay alive. Since coming to America as slaves even back as far back as when the first colonies began, slaves wanted to escape. They wanted to get away from the situation they were forced into. The North was angry about the treatment of the slaves and was not happy about owners being allowed to come into their states to take the slaves back. It is amazing there were not more slave uprisings. But finally, the North decided to do something about it. They would help the slaves escape to freedom. The slaves were now angry, scared, and confused. Hearing of the Underground Railroad, they slowly began to run more and more.
But in the North there was still a very strong double standard. Prejudice and discrimination ran freely against blacks, they were not given all rights of the white man or women for that matter. Professions for blacks were very limited. So leaving the plantation for the North wasn’t as appealing as one might think for a slave. Plantation owners went to great lengths to keep their slaves from leaving. They had trained dogs that would attack at an instant if called upon. If slave would manage to get far enough away from the dogs, bounty hunters would be sent after them still. The North was not as bad as the South but at least the Southerners were not hypocrites.
Although plantations were reaping the profits more than ever, this constant pressure was setting the stage for change and change was going to have enormous expenses.
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