Slavery was common in the United States as early as the 1700’s. Slavery in America brought a successful south but also turned up to be one of the worst things done by humans to humans. Slavery became the way of life for most of the people. Eight out of the primary twelve presidents owned slaves.
From slaveries owners in the South benefited the most. Slaves were treated as a property. Their owners had the right to do whatever they wanted to slaves, they were treated as a property, not a people. Owners would stay next to the farms and watch the slaves make sure they are working fast and hard, as they can. If slaves wouldn’t do their best, owners would beat them and even sometimes in severe cases killed them.
Slavery, the “Peculiar Institution” caused suffering among an innumerable number of human beings. Some of the slaves would argue that the life of slavery is worse than a domestic animal, at least animals incapable of emotions and feeling. Suffering from sexual assault, sickness, beating and murders slaves suffered a lot through their lifespan.
Since the slave’s life depended on their owners, most owners treated their slaves well by making sure that they had clothes to wear and decent food to eat. Some other owners did not spend much time caring about these things. They were more focused to get work done by their slaves. There were two different kinds of slaves, slaves that stayed in the house and had to take care of the families, mostly women, and children. The other ones were the slaves that worked in the land, mostly man and young boys who made up the farm hands. These men usually worked from sunrise to sunset.
In the middle of 18th century, the topic slavery in the United States was controversial, as many people living in the North were against it, however, people living in the south were very supportive of it.
Written in 1853, the book Twelve Year a Slave is a Written in 1853, the book Twelve Years a Slave is a first-person account of what it used to be like for Solomon Northup to be taken captive from his free existence in the North and offered to a plantation as a slave in the South, and his struggle to regain his freedom.
Solomon Northup was a free man, who got kidnapped and wrongly sold into slavery. His journey shows that not only women had to struggle with sexual abuse but also men; sexual harassment/physical brutality, slave rebellion, and the master and slave relationship.
Through writing about subject matters of namelessness, inhumanity, suffering, distrust, defiance, and the wish for freedom, Northup used to be able to expose the experiences and realities of slavery. (Solomon Northup, Twelve Years a Slave (Cincinnati: Henry W. Derby, 1853), 78-80). Slavery takes its own part in the history of the United States by containing the cruelest and darkest centuries of the nation.
People crying for freedom and liberty from cruelty built the nation out of unethical acts and greed. The voracious desires of the nation to gain possessions and wealthy lead to the psychological and physical damage of West Africans and African Americans. Families losing their members and not being able every see each again.
Keeping slave families together was difficult and many of the owners could not afford that. Since slaves were considered as property, owners could buy and sell them at their own will. The law did not recognize slave families or slave marriage, that is why husband and wife could be sold to different plantations; some parents had their children take away and sold.
There is story about one mother slave, that killed her children with axe because “her two sons had been sold to the man who was going to carry them more than six hundred miles off, to a place where they would have to work under driver’s lash” ‘A Mother’s Anguish,’ The American Anti-Slavery Almanac, Vol. 1, No. 2 (1837): 43-44. Mother knew what slave life looks life, and she could not stand the reason that her children would live the same life as her, moreover very far from her and she won’t be able to see them never again.
After she killed her own children, she was afraid of his cruelty and killed herself. Women suffered from slavery more emotionally than men did. It was hard for a mother to be apart from their kids. Some of the families would beg their freemen to keep the families together, from the book Northup, Twelve Years a Slave, 81-89 (Parting of Randall and Eliza), the mother couldn’t let her children be separate from each other.
Mothers would beg the freemen to keep their families together but in most cases, no one could afford to buy the whole family, instead, they would buy each slave individually. After she loses his son Randall, he got taken ill (82). Slaves, through their lives, got taken ill and lose their lives in their young age “I have seen mothers kissing for the last time the faces of their dead offspring; I have seen them looking down into the grave, as the earth fell with a dull sound upon their coffins, hiding them from their eyes forever” (85).
Slavery was an awful convention that dehumanized a race of people. Male and female bondage were different from each other. Female bondage was not less severe than male; childbearing and childcare responsibilities affected the female’s pattern of resistance and how they could conduct their lives. Harriet Jacobs’ Incidents in the Life of a Slave girl, demonstrates the superior role that woman slave had to survive and the struggles that caused from having to cope with sexual abuse. “He told me I was his property; that I must be subject to mean tyranny”
She wrote about that no matter of woman race, if you are a slave there is no shadow of law to protect female from insult, from violence or even death (PAGE NUMBER 45). As a female slave, Jacobs has a different story than slave men, therefore, her narrative was not common in the stories of slavery. Unlikely from men slaves, females would suffer from sexual harassment from their masters, lose their children to cotton production.
In conclusion, slavery although was a big part of the rise of this country. It was looking back, one of the most terrible things done by humans to other humans. Learning from our mistakes took a long time. The Civil War was the point in our history where everyone realized that you could not treat people like animals. That everyone is looked upon as equals.