.. veryones row. “For every..
stray weed that had been left in the row,.. the slave who had left it got a flopping more or less severe”(Feldstein 48). Another former slave remembers that they had to plough with the oxen or mules. “The women as frequently as the men perform[ed] this labor, feeding, currying, and taking care of their teams and in all respects doing the field and stable work”(Lester 65).
Also, we have some memories of former slaves that tell us how difficult it was to work on the cotton plantation. Men, women, and children, all had to work on the plantation. He remembers that “..women and children picked cotton till the blood runs from the tips of their fingers..”(Feldstein 47). He also remembers that they feared the flogging every minute of their work (Feldstein 47). They could not stop working even for a moment.
According to another former slave, a woman surrounded with her children, half starved, was often “..whipped at night if she does not perform her task”(Moulton 18). Women did not have time to care for their children; they had to work as much as men. They had to bring their little children with them to the field and put them in the field dirt. The children were alone all day crying because they were hungry and were not seeing their mothers. A slave remembers that often these children were “..found dead in the field and in the quarter for want of the care of their mothers”(Feldstein 48). Leaving children in the field was also dangerous because of the poisonous snakes.
A slave remembers that some women worked with their children on their back because of those snakes (Moulton 18). It is well known that the slaves labor is the most hard and miserable among all kinds of labor. And these accounts only prove the fact. Many slave owners accepted that the slaves worked very hard. One of the former slave owners testified that when the business went quite poorly, “..the slaves were called up to work long before daylight.. and worked..
some of them all night”(Moulton 18). However, in his saying, there is no hint of regret. He states it as a very usual thing, and justifies it by the bad business situation. He still does not realize how evil it was to force the slaves to work for so long time. Another ex-slaveholder, Colonel Bingham, wrote an essay on slavery when slavery was already abolished, but he was still confident that slavery was more beneficial for black population then a free state.
In his essay, Bingham says that “..the race antagonism.. [is] no where perhaps more strong then among the white laborers of the North West against the negro..”(Bingham 247). He implies here that the slaves labor was more beneficial for the slaves because they were not oppressed racially. However, the institute of slavery oppressed the slaves in a enormous degree and some personal antagonism in the North is nothing in comparing with slavery. Also it does not justify the inhuman exploitation of the slaves. The most terrible and sad aspect of slavery described by the slaves is their punishments by their masters.
It is the fact that the whippings often were very severe. It is hard to believe that some people could do all these terrible things to other people. Harry Thomas, a fugitive slave, remembers one of the terrible mornings. “..The master came for me, took me home, stripped me stark naked, made a paddle of thick oak board, lashed me across a pine log, secured my hands and feet, and whipped me with the paddle. .. He whipped till he broke the paddle.
After that, he took me to the house, and hit me with a hickory stick over the head and shoulders, a dozen times or more: then he got salt and water, and a corn cob, and scrubbed me. Then he sent me to water the hogs, naked as I was, in January”(“Testimony Of The Canadian Fugitives” 7). It is very scary what this person went through while he was a slave. William Hall, another fugitive slave, described one more example of the executions.
“I saw nine persons at different times, made fast to four stakes, and whipped with a leather strap from their neck to their heels and on the bottoms of their feet, raising blisters: then the blisters broken with a plaited whip, the overseer standing off and fetching hard blows. I have seen a man faint under this treatment. I saw one about eighteen years old.. used in this way: seven weeks after he fainted in consequence; his nerves were so shattered that he seemed like a man of fifty”(“Testimony Of The Canadian Fugitives” 9) As for the slave owners, N.
L. Rice made a very interesting argument when he made a speech participating in the debates on slavery held in the City of Cincinnati in October 1845. He said that “..the laws of India make the wife the slave of the husband; and even in Ohio, a man may so treat his wife as to render her life a burden, without being in danger of the penalty of the law. Shall we then denounce the marriage relation as in itself sinful?”(Blanchard, Rice 56) He accepts that the slaves were treated very badly, but claims that it does not imply that slavery itself is bad. Obviously, it is very bad for India and Ohio at that time that there were no laws that would protect a woman from domestic violence. Also his argument is very week in protecting slavery.
However, many slave owners of that time were convinced by his speech. That is why he represents the point of view of many slave owners. The writing by Colonel Bingham, whom we have already seen, reveals a different perception of the relations between slaves and their masters. He denies a bad treatment of the slaves by their masters at all. He says that “..in the history of the whole world there never were as kindly relations existing between two races on the same soil as between the slave owner and the slave in the South before the Civil War”(Bingham 248).
As a proof of his words he says that he always loved black people. He gives an example of how much he loved a black woman who helped his parents to raise him. He says that he “..loved her next to [his] parents”(Bingham 248). But how about other black people whom he exploited and punished pretty regularly? Did he love them, also? Definitely it is very week argument, but it reveals slave owners seeing of the relationship between a slave and his master.
We can see how distorted it was. We have seen writings and memories of both former slaves and slave owners. We found out that the slaves and slaveholders saw the slavery in absolutely different ways. I personally believe the slaves accounts that described every detail in constructing the reality of slavery.
The slaveholders, however, talked in general without a single example from their experiences as slave owners. Also, very often, it is hard to believe what they say in their essays. But why these people could be so evil? I think the best answer for the question can be found in Inside View Of Slavery by C. G. Parsons who was a visitor from the North at the time of slavery. He wrote that the system of slavery influences the slaveholder, and its “..tendency to harden the heart, to dry up all the fountains of human sympathy, to make one callous to the wrongs and the woes of these around him, is stamped upon the very surface of society throughout the South”(Parsons 203).
Probably that is the answer to the question why the slave owners point of view is so different from the slaves. Probably, it is true that the system of slavery affected them in such a way that they were not able to comprehend the reality of their evil. After writing this paper I realized that I did not really know that much about the history of the living conditions of slaves. I certainly knew many historical facts about slavery, but I did not know much about the conditions of the slaves, their food, dwellings, etc. The experience of writing this paper was quite useful for me in understanding the salves life and in trying to understand different points of views on slavery. It was very interesting to think why salves and slave owners writings are so different.
As a whole, thinking about the topic itself gave me an opportunity to study the very interesting period in our history. I am glad that I wrote this paper and I am satisfied with my paper as a result of my research. Works Cited Albers, Harry S., ed. Testimony Of The Canadian Fugitives.
http://history.cc.ukans.edu/carrie/docs/usdocs.txt / canadian slaves.html (24 Nov. 1996). Bingham, Colonel R. An Ex-slaveholders View Of The Negro Question In The South. Asheville: European Edition Of Harpers Monthly Magazine, 1900.
243-256. Blanchard Rev. J. and N. L. Rice.
A Debate On Slavery: Held In The City Of Cincinnati, Of October, 1845. Detroit: Negro History Press, 1846. 34-60. Feldstein, Stanley. Once A Slave.
New York: William Morrow and Company, Inc., 1971. 39-87. Lester, Julius. To Be A Slave. New York: Scholastic Inc., 1968.
28-76. Moulton, Horace. American Slavery As It Is: Testimony Of A Thousand Witnesses. New York: Arno Press and The New York Times, 1968. 17-45.
Parsons, C. G. Inside View Of Slavery: Or A Tour Among The Planters. Boston: John P.
Jewett And Company, 1855. 203-231. Williams, James. Letters On Slavery From The Old World. New York: Negro Universities Press, 1969.
30-43. Bibliography Albers, Harry S., ed. Testimony Of The Canadian Fugitives. http://history.cc.ukans.edu/carrie/docs/usdocs.txt / canadian slaves.html (24 Nov. 1996). Bingham, Colonel R.
An Ex-slaveholders View Of The Negro Question In The South. Asheville: European Edition Of Harpers Monthly Magazine, 1900. 243-256. Blanchard Rev. J. and N.
L. Rice. A Debate On Slavery: Held In The City Of Cincinnati, Of October, 1845. Detroit: Negro History Press, 1846. 34-60.
Feldstein, Stanley. Once A Slave. New York: William Morrow and Company, Inc., 1971. 39-87. Lester, Julius. To Be A Slave.
New York: Scholastic Inc., 1968. 28-76. Moulton, Horace. American Slavery As It Is: Testimony Of A Thousand Witnesses. New York: Arno Press and The New York Times, 1968. 17-45.
Parsons, C. G. Inside View Of Slavery: Or A Tour Among The Planters. Boston: John P.
Jewett And Company, 1855. 203-231. Williams, James. Letters On Slavery From The Old World.
New York: Negro Universities Press, 1969. 30-43.