How can slavery be described? Maybe, not by many or not at all by those who have experienced it. Frederick Douglas offers one of the biggest insights into how slave life was. Slavery in America goes back to the start of the African Slave Trade (Class Notes). When the first ship came ashore Africans were amazed and had no idea or understanding of what was going to happen to them. Most of them had never seen white skin before, and the strange boats would journey them across the Atlantic. What is to be called the Trans-Atlantic Slave trade had started up.
The voyage to America lasted eight, ten, twelve weeks. Hundreds would go and only a few survived the trip. People would die from starvation, disease; the survivors also ate them. Gottlieb Mittegeger a musician wrote,” A woman about to give birth and unable to deliver under circumstances, was pushed through one of the portholes into the sea. ” (Zinn 43) The slave system destroyed the family structure. Mothers and fathers would see their children sold off. They went through the worst dehumanizing process. Blacks would work all day from sunrise to sunset.
John Little, a former slave, wrote: They say slaves are happy, because they laugh, and are marry. I myself and three or four others, have received tow hundred lashes in the day, and had our feet in fetters; yet, at night, we would sing and dance, and make others laugh at the rattling of our chains. Happy men we must have been! We did it to keep down trouble, and to keep our hearts from being completely broken. ”(Zinn 168) Slaves had no rights and laws were being passed on them. This was done to keep them from revolting against their masters. (Class discussion)
The Southern blacks didn’t have many rights. They lived separated from one another. They either were kidnapped or sold off by there own race and sometimes traded in for tobacco and sugar. For the South it was vital to have slaves for the economy. The development of the cotton gin and the westward expansion, brought more slaves coming in. Our own founding fathers had slaves. Thomas Jefferson wrote, “all men are created equal,” but died leaving his blacks in slavery. Sometimes relationships between master and slave evolved like Thomas Jefferson and Sally Hemings.
Usually women would work in the house, which led to sexual abuse by the owner and relationships. Gradual Abolition and Process of Emancipation led some blacks to freedom. The Underground Railroad helped thousands of blacks to escape from slavery. Free Blacks did try to take a stand, like Demark Vesey. The plan was to burn Charleston down and take over the city. But the plan was betrayed, and thirty-five blacks, including vesey were hanged (Zinn 169). It was hard for blacks to rebel because of the physical geography and the long distances between them and the difference in languages.
On a smaller scale blacks would express resistance by refusing duties, being lazy and sloppy work, fighting or attempting to escape. Captured slaves would be beaten, killed, and description of slaves would be passed throughout comminutes. Stories of bloody uprisings caused slave owners living in fear and sleeping with one eyes open. Many blacks suffered for hundreads of years. Slaves were being abused treated inhumanly. They lived through the worst conditions. Slavery put a scare on the path of history. But slaver had not died out; slavery is still going on today but its change from slavery to racism.