‘’give me liberty’’ review

The history of enslavement in the South is the focus of Chapter 11. This covered the years 1830 to 1860.The economic supremacy of cotton in the South is examined first. It also contributes to the prosperity of the textile industries in the north and south due to the abundance of cotton raw materials. The southern region's economy was entirely dependent on cotton as a cash product, whereas the northern region had industrialized. The South's rural population strongly favored enslavement. There are many justifications for slavery that are explained, thus distorting the meaning of freedom to support strange institutions. John Calhoun who was a proslavery and southerner was featured voices of freedom and argued that the foundation on which to have stable and free political institutions was formed on a foundation of slavery (Eric,418). Culture and society of slaves in the chapter is being contrasted and compared to the society and culture of blacks of the south who were free. The culture of slaves in the southern demonstrated that the enslaved were cooperative and able to maintain self-respect and semi-independence though folklore, religion and family life. The strong will for freedom was highly cultivated by the southern slave culture. The chapter ends up in looking the different types of slave resistance.

Slavery highly shaped economic and social relations in the south. Slavery in the 18th and 19th centuries was a very critical component in the agricultural economies of the south. There was and increasing gap between the plantation owners who were wealthy and had many slaves and the substance farmers who were poor and had few slaves. A measure of wealth was almost measured by the number of slaves one owned. Slaves were becoming a source of human capital and less of humans. Those who owned slaves were those with power and money. Andrew Johnson was opposed to this and called it ‘’slaveocracy’’. Most parts of states north of Dixon and Mason, by the year 1804 had done away with slavery and those who were still practicing slavery, there were laws which were working towards its abolition. Due to cotton industry in the south, slavery got a new way of life after 1800.It also expanded to the southwest. As a result of Cotton gin, there was an increasing demand for slaves (Eric, 417). Some slaves in the old south were working as servants and many of them were worked agricultural plantations and farms. This were areas with good soils allowing the growing of crops such as cotton, sugar and tobacco. The use of slaves for agricultural labor was free hence increasing profits for the owners of plantations. The life of southerners was shaped by slavery because the south was highly dependent on it for labor force. It was also as a result of the slavery that there was a functional aristocratic hierarchy. The rich being at the top, the less wealthy in the middle and then the slaves at the bottom. There was no essence of an educated work force and therefore there was no actual public education leading to a paternalistic society. The wealthy whites were maintaining control through asserting that they cared to the less fortunate (Aptheker & Herbert, 432). The black’s freedom was to be free of slavery while for the whites it was the ability to have ownership of their own slaves. The whites were always looking forward to having slaves unless there were abolitions. Slavery was continuing to build the social sphere of influence and also grew the poor and rich monetary gap.

There were legal and material constraints on the slave’s work and lives which included; they were not allowed to sign contracts or acquire property, testify in the court against the white person, own firearms and hold meetings unless there was the presence of a white person, they were not allowed to leave the plantation unless under authorization of the owner (Aptheker & Herbert, 429).The chapter says that on their day off, which was Sunday, the slaves would hang out. At times, they would also use firearms in scaring crows which came to the plantations. They had no voice in the government to rule over them, they could also be leased or sold at the will of owner. It was also illegal for a slave to read and write. The Alabama legal code stated that the owners of slaves had the right to the labor, services and time of his slaves. Therefore, the southern justice system was meant in order to enforce the power of the master over their slaves. The Louisiana law stated,’’ A slave owes his master a respect without bonds, an absolute obedience’’ (Steve, 78).

In the old south social hierarchy pyramid, male slaves were equal to their counterpart’s female slaves, which did not apply to the whites. Discrimination of the slave community helped them come together as a big family. The chapter notes that the slaves, ’’never abandoned their desire for freedom or their determination to resist total white control over their lives’’, (Aptheker & Herbert 436).The chapter continues, they had a ‘’semi-independent culture as their lives outside of being a slave resolved around the family and church’’ (Aptheker & Herbert, 436).Also, the law did not recognize slave marriages legality and there was a constant fear in families for being broken up in case of one partner was sold. First cousin’s marriage was not allowed and marriages lasted a lifetime. There were defined Christianity version and every plantation had a preacher. Slaves were allowed to attend urban black churches which were established by the free blacks. The slaves were desiring for; souls equality before the creator, freedom, political and civil equality.

Different forms of slave resistant were practiced by the slaves. This included; silent sabotage or day to day resistance. The chapter says the slaves ‘’were doing poor work, braking tools, abusing animals and other ways of disrupting plantation routine’’ (Eric, 443).It continues to say, ‘’there was theft of food, a form of resistance so common that one southern physician diagnosed it as a hereditary disease unique to blacks’’, (Eric, 443).They also committed assaults, arson and poisoning against individual whites. Escaping was another resistance, mostly to the northern United States or Canada. More prone to escaping were the men. The underground railroad helped slaves escape by keeping them in their homes until they were able to eventually able attain a place of their freedom. The Amistad, when a group of slaves took control of the ship and seized their freedom. Finally, resistance to slavery was no longer an individual or group responsibility of defiance but became an outright rebellion. Nut Turner too led a black uprising. Many slaves were whipped and executed. Virginia leaders started debating on the abolition of a peculiar institution (Davis & David, 424).

The plain "plain folk" continued to support slavery (Davis & David, 422). Though some poor whites were hating the power of wealthy plantation owners and against slaveocracy, most poor whites had a connection with the social and economic power of the planters. Also, some small-scale farmers helped monitoring those slaves who would run away and ones on the roads without owner’s permission. They would also rent slaves from the owners and elected the planters to public offices in the south.

Cited works

Eric, F. Give me liberty! : An American history: WW Norton & Company, 2014.

Aptheker & Herbert. American Negro Slave Revolts: Still the fullest account of slave rebellions in the United States: The Rosen publishing group, 1943.

Steve, G. Give me liberty: Danude, 1981.

Davis & David. Inhuman Bondage: The rise and fall of slavery in the new world: Cambridge University press, 2006.

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