Slavery Essay, Research Paper
Slavery in the south in the late eighteen hundreds, was not only beneficial to the plantation owners and farmers, but to the economy itself. In 1850 the south contributed greatly to the Industrial Revolution, with Great Britain producing an abundance of textiles, cotton was in heavy demand. The economy required large amounts of cotton to be produced, and slave labor was a necessity. The status of slavery in the south was multi-dimensional such as; Southerners attitudes towards the slaves, the basis that Southerners defended slavery, the relationship between slave and master, and the family life of slaves and their children.
A Southerners attitude towards their slaves is the equivalent of a modern day farmer?s attitude towards his farm animals. The Southerners put the slaves in the same category as their land, mules, stock, fences, and farming utensils. They viewed their slaves as investments and machines not as humans. The more slaves they owned the faster crops were planted, the more cotton they harvested, the more money they made. The Southerners general attitudes towards the slaves were, vicious and cruel, but as long as the slave was producing some sort of income for the family, they did not care for about them either way. When slaves would try to run away because they could no longer tolerate this type of abuse, the masters saw this as form of disrespect and would nearly starve the slave to death, and feed him bread and water for long periods of time. In rare cases a master would care for a slave and saw that the salves were not only their workers, and would give them a little extra food or nicer clothing which would not happen that often. Most of the time children would get this type of treatment if his or her parent were white. In my opinion, the Southerners attitude towards slaves was a gross display of human ignorance.
Another aspect of slavery is what life was like to be a slave. The life of a slave was tiring and depressing. They woke up every morning before sunrise to begin work, their workday consisted of hoeing, planting, or harvesting, depending on the season. If they would take a break when it was not permitted, or showed any sign of slowing they would be whipped, their workday would end at fifteen minutes untill the sunset, and untill horn the blew the slaves would work all day in the heat, with inadequate break times. Slaves would work very hard all day and receive minimal compensations, which were limited amount money and a minute amount of food. The food that the slaves received were given outs on Mondays and consisted of three pounds of bacon or pickled pork. If they wanted to they could substitute the fresh meat for four and one half pounds of the less edible part of the carcass such as the heart and liver, or four pounds of beef or mutton. If a male slave had a wife on another farm he could only visit her between Saturday night and Monday morning. They would only be able to leave the farm with a pass if they left without one, and were caught by a patroller, they would be striped from the waist up and whipped, sometimes untill they bled. Slaves were only allowed to marry if the master approved, and both slaves lived on the same farm, if the master did not approve they would not be able to marry. This is just a few of the many things that slaves had to endure on a day to day basis, I think in modern times we would refer to this kind of treatment as cruel and inhuman.
The relationship of the master and the slave was full of mixed immotions in my opinion and very complex. From the masters point of view he feel that he has done more good then evil, he sees his relationship with the slaves as a positive one. He thinks that he has bestowed to them principles of morality, and religion. He kind of sees him self as sort of a blessing in disguise. Slaves of a ?good master? are the master?s closest most devoted friends; they look up to him as their superior, and provider. The slaves are happy when the master prospers and sad when he does not. In my opinion I think the slaves have no choice but to have this relationship with their masters, for fear of their own and their familys lives. If a slave was not to rejoice when his master would prosper, and to not be there for his master as a friend would be punished. I can?t see how anyone would look up to the person who enslaves them and takes away all of their rights as an individual.
Southerners did try to defend slavery. Thomas Dew tries to defend slavery in many ways by mentioning that in the bible there are accounts of slavery, and that ?even children of Israel were slave holders themselves?. He also mentions that in ancient Greece and Rome ?slaves were more numerous then freeman?. That Aristotle believed that slavery kept the spirit of freedom alive. He then goes on to say that slavery keeps the blacks in order, that with out guidance of the white people they would be nothing but murders and would plot to ?rise on a certain night, and murder all the whites in their respective families?. I think the majority southerners that were Christians, knew that slavery was morally wrong and needed something or someone to put it on paper to justify it and say it was alright. Which is exactly what Thomas Dew did.
In conclusion, slavery in the 1800?s has been a controversial problem that many people still have major issues with today. The Southerners attitudes, the way they treated the slaves and even the relationships the masters had with the slaves affected the out come of slavery eventually. It was an unfortunate time and although a lot of people suffered and were killed it shaped our country to what it is today.