History of slavery and slave anrratives
Did you know slavery has always been part of Human Society? Slaves have been in history for thousands of years. The oldest records of slavery can be found in the oldest of records. The oldest record that includes references of slavery can be found in the Sumerian Code of Annum which contains laws regarding to slaves. Slaves were in all societies who practiced the institution usually gathered their slaves from other conquered cities and kingdoms.
Slavery in Colonial times came when Britain began creating Colonies in North and South America to produce and harvest raw materials to create manufactured goods in Britain. Slaves came to America in order to work massive plantations that produced raw materials in America. Britain purchased their slaves from South Africa from the most powerful of tribes who wanted to sell their war captives (or burden) for other goods that Britain offered in order to take the slaves off their hands.
Slaves were then transported by ships into America and the surrounding islands then auctioned off like cattle to plantation owners and others who wanted to buy a human being to do their manual labor. The System of Chattel Slavery’ was used in America and was now based on race. Under the chattel slavery systems slaves were viewed as property and not seen as a human being. They were less than human in the eyes of the colonist, and more like commodities. During the times the more slaves one owned the higher your status, just how it applies to farmers and cattle.
The First slaves spoke in their native tongue, and still worshipped their African spirits and gods. Slave owners tried began to take away the origins of Africans to demolish their morality. They accomplished this by separating slaves that knew the same language or slaves who shared the same tribe or family. After they were separated they ere then forcefully converted to Christianity and Disemboweled (in words of the Christians) from their African traditions. Slavery then became an essential institution in early Lignite States because of the wealth being generated in it.
Slaves brought much wealth to the colonist from the cash crops produced in the massive plantations; this gave further reason for the slave’s owners as well as the government officials in the Colonial United States in having their own personal reasons not to stop this imprisonment of fellow human beings. As the United States grew in wealth and in productions they needed more laves from Africa to be shipped to the United States, a total of 597,000 slaves were imported from Africa only to be sold and abused for their labor.
Many of these slaves were first imported to South America, Brazil and other tropical countries, and then moved to North America. During times of slavery abolitionist, white Christians who wanted to abolish slavery, began to use slave narratives in the middle 18005 in order to show the rest of the country, as well as the world, the physical abuse and mental abuse being done to a fellow human being who had no chance to taste freedom since being born, or some other persons financial benefit.
Slave narratives were written accounts or memoirs from the perspective of slaves themselves. Some slaves learnt how to read and write during their slavery, but this was rare and most of the slaves were unable to both read or write, so instead they told their accounts orally to abolitionist who wrote it down for the slaves. Slave narratives helped in many ways to spread the knowledge of the inhumanity and brutality slaves were being put through. These narratives were very detailed and caused readers to tremble at the thought of lives slaves were being forced into.
The readers who were important were the whites in the North who knew little of the brutality being done to blacks in the south. There were also many narratives exported around the world, so the rest of the world can know the brutality Of slaves as well. The idea to publish and spread the narratives around the country was to get the sympathy of the whites in the north and abolitionist in the south to begin to protest for freedom for the blacks. With the help of these slave narratives and the protest of the abolitionist the north began to work their way to abolish slavery in the United States.
Freedom first came to African Americans in 1 863 when president signed the emancipation proclamation, freeing all slaves in the south, where most slaves were located in the United States. By 1865 the 13 amendment, which legalized slavery in all parts of the country, was passed and all slaves in the country were freed. The most famous and acknowledged narrative writer was Frederick Douglas. Feedback Douglas wrote “Narrative of the life of Frederick”. In his narrative he described his life as a child born into slavery and the events that he witnessed as his life progressed.
In his Douglas’ narrative he as well as many other narratives rote about his emotional and physical abuse he suffered from the chains of slavery. In his narrative he wrote “My mother and I were separated when I was but an infant” (Up. 1 , Narrative of the life of Frederick). This was an example of the emotional abuse that was common to all slaves who were born into it. Slave owners made it their duty to break the bond between the children and mothers of slaves, this tactic of breaking the bond was used to show the power whites had over their property (who were black slaves).
This tactic was used because if a child never learned how to make a bond with the Oman who gave birth to them, how will they succeed to make a bond with anyone? This power whites had was also used to keep the slaves blind of their past and breaking family bonding. White owners knew if slaves never stayed as a family it will be easier to keep them in line as an individual without a purpose in a family. Douglas also grew with emotional pain when he wrote about the whispers of who his father was “My father was a white man… ” And “the opinion was also whispered that my master was my father” (Up. L, Narrative of the life of Frederick).
The knowledge of knowing that your oppressor, your abuser, was also the man who was your father could have been breaking point for many people, but in the reality of slavery this was a common knowledge of many slaves who knew that their master was in fact their father. These slave owners didn’t view their black children as a child, but as a piece of property produced like cattle. Why weren’t slaves who had white fathers freed? Legend the Chattel system of slavery, children born from a slave, even if the child’s father may be white, is still considered a slave as well as property to the slave-owner/ father.
With this being the fact, this halfwit Alfa black children can and will be sold off to other plantations, knowing it was their father who traded them for a profit. Douglas also wrote in his narrative about the abuse he witnessed in another plantation he was sold to, where he witnessed his aunt being abused by the owner, he wrote “l have often been awakened at the dawn of the day by the most heart-rending shrieks Of an own aunt Of mine, whom he (the master) used to tie up to the joist, and whip upon her naked back till she was literally covered in blood.
No words, no tears, no prayers, from his gory victim, seemed to move his iron earth from his bloody purpose” (Up. 2, Narrative of the life of Frederick). When Douglas wrote “no words, no tears, no prayer, from his gory victim, seemed to move his iron heart” you begin to see how barbaric slave owners where towards their slaves, who bring them wealth and prosperity, and yet beat them with hatred. You also see how slave owners commonly after many years of slavery didn’t believe slaves were people at all, but commodities that can be beaten, sold, and if they wanted to do so, killed.
He also wrote more about his aunt’s abuse “he made her get upon the stool, and tied her hands to the kook. She now stood fair for his infernal purpose. Her arms were stretched up at their full length, so that she stoops upon the ends of her toes. He then said to her, “Now, you I’ll learn you how to disobey my orders! ” and after rolling up his sleeves, he commenced to lay on the heavy cow skin, and soon the warm, red blood (amid heart-rending shrieks from her, and horrid oaths from him) came dripping to the floor. ” (Up. 3, Narrative of the life of Frederick).
Douglas witnessed all of this type of horror when he was only a child; this was the life for the slaves in plantations. Douglas also wrote about he living conditions slaves were expected to live udder. Douglas wrote about Ye Town and how it was the place the slaves were taken to for punishment and it was also the place slaves and their families went to get their monthly allowance for food, and yearly clothing. Douglas wrote ” Our allowance consisted of eight pounds of pork, or its equivalent in fish, and one bushel of corn meal.
Their yearly clothing consisted Of two coarse linen shirts, one pair of linen trousers, like shirts, one jacket, one pair of trousers for the winter, made of coarse Negro cloths, one pair of stockings, and one pair of shoes, one of which cost no more than 7 dollars. ” This allowance is proof about the profits being maximized in the slave’s expense. Slaves only get 7 dollars’ worth of clothing a year, and a blanket to sleep on the floor. These slaves were expected to survive off the minimum.
Douglas also wrote about how slaves were organized in gangs and were needed to be in certain post at a certain time, if they weren’t at post they would be severely punished. The woman slaves went through much of the same abuse as their counterpart males, but they also went through sexual abuse. Harriet Jacobs was a former lave who also had her slave narrative published. The name of Jacobs’ narrative is “incidents in the life of a slave girl”. In her narrative she wrote about the hardships that uniquely happened to slave girls growing up as house slaves.
In her narrative she wrote about how her slave owner took advantage of his power over her being her master, desecrating her mind as a child with foul sexual thoughts as ” he whispered foul words into her ear” (Up. 1, Incidents in the Life of a Slave Girl). In Jacobs’ book she feared the disgrace she would bring to her grandmother if she would ever find out about he abuse being done to her, because of this fear she never told a soul about her abuse, making her feel helpless to this pervert of a master. Her fear didn’t end with just her master.
The mistress of the slave-owner also became jealous of Jacobs. She wrote of one account “l had entered my sixteenth year, and every day it became more apparent that my presence was intolerable to Mrs.. Flint. Angry words frequently passed between her and her husband. He had never punished me himself, and he would not allow anybody else to punish me. In that respect, she was never satisfied; but, in her angry moods, o terms were too vile for her to bestow upon me. Yet l, whom she detested so bitterly, had far more pity for her than he had whose duty it was to make her life happy.
I never wronged her, or wished to wrong her; and one word of kindness from her would have brought me to her feet. ” (Up. 2, Chapter VI, “Incidents in the life of a slave girl”). This jealous brought her a new enemy who hated her for being a victim to her husband’s scheme. Jacobs was powerless in making her master stop this abuse, and yet the mistress hated her from the fact that her husband is toying around with this poor innocent young woman. This type of jealousy happened commonly around all slave plantations.
Mistresses of slave-owners already had the knowledge that their husband may have fathered many children slaves, most didn’t mind it since under the chattel system of slavery, slaves were just more commodities. If mistresses would become jealous they would ask for the child and as well as the mother of the child to be sold off to another plantation to not be reminded of them. These slave narratives helped paint the picture that was actually there for 200 years, so that many people who didn’t see or know the damage done to another human in the shackles Of slavery.
If whites in the south didn’t want to change their ways, the people of the north must have been convinced for a stronger push towards freedom for everyone. Slave Narratives should now be preserved so that our great country never forgets the dark past we today are still looking to fix as a nation of many nations, for equality for everyone, even though we might have begun in a barbaric way.