Assignment 2

  1. Region of the U.S.: Slavery was all over the United States, but starting around Lincoln’s era and with the introduction of his abolitionist ideals, the South held true to their convictions of slavery and fought against the country with slavery being a major component of the war. Slavery survivors from Civil War time document living as far North as Maryland and Ohio with their owners (Maryland, Brooks-Williams).
  2. Places slaves lived and worked: Slaves commonly lived in people’s homes, plantations, farms, or worked for people that had a lot of land. I also think that slaves may have worked in factories in the North for some time. Many slaves lived and worked on large plots of land, farms, or plantations (James V. Deane, Baltimore, Maryland).
  3. Type of labor slaves performed: Everything from household duties to tending to the children to manual labor. Many slaves worked on land doing farm work, work on the land, and I believe some slaves did work in factories in the North for some time. Many slaves also went into the Confederate army to either fight or be a bodyguard for their owner (Doc Quinn, Texarkana, Akansas) (Alabama, Aarons-Young). Hard manual labor that could often make the slaves bleed.
  4. Work conditions or rhythms: The conditions greatly depended on the family/owner(s) the slaves worked for. Some families may have treated their slaves quite nicely (nice is a relative term as these people were still slaves, however some were treated with more dignity than others. Particularly the ones that worked with the children and in the house) and others treated their slaves terribly and used physical punishment and abuse to demonstrate their authority. Many slaves were given a day or a half day off a week and many had 12 hour days (Alabama, Aarons-Young). Many children also performed slave labor (James V. Deane, Baltimore, Maryland). Slaves would be expected to work in any weather condition under any personal circumstance (ill, tired, hungry, etc.) and without being provided basic components to meet fundamental needs (Bibb, 15). Slaves were very often whipped.
  5. Food, clothing, shelter: Food, clothing, and shelter were all provided by the owners. Therefore, the slaves could have scraps of food and clothes and live in a hut or could be supplied nicely. Many slaves had designated places of living on their owner’s property. Some owners were very strict with food and weighed the rations out. Sometimes food was given in a pail and water in a trough (Alabama, Aarons-Young). Some slave owners were very nice and had a very loving relationship. They provided warm winter clothes and fine summer clothes. Some slaves were provided with nice houses that were weather protected (Charles Coles, Baltimore, Maryland). Slaves were not always given proper or adequate clothing, and some slaves were denied shoes even in severely cold months or when working in rough conditions. Some slaves did not have beds and had to sleep on the floor and then be expected to work as soon as the sun came up (Bibb, 15).
  6. Family life: Many slaves had children and a significant other, but it was very common for parents and children, brother and sister, or any relatives to be broken up by the slave trade. Even after the war, many slaves never found out what happened to their family members they were separated from (Alabama, Aarons – Young). Sometimes the masters would hold slave weddings (Maryland, Brooks-Williams). Many families broken up.
  7. Education or training: The slaves received no formal education. Their training was usually just focused on the field they were expected to be working (i.e. farming, sewing, cooking, etc). I believe some slaves were given no training and were just expected to know how to do the chores. Slaves were taught how to work. Some (most/all?) slaves were not taught to read or write (Alabama, Aarons- Young). Silas Dorsey of Maryland had all of his slaves taught to read and write (Charles Coles, Baltimore, Maryland). Slaves were not allowed books, pen, ink, or paper (Bibb, 15). Slaves held on to folk-lore and tradition that could be passed on. Superstition was highly regarded. This was their form of education since they were allowed no formal education (Bibb, 31).
  8. Religion: I believe many slaves were religious, and religion was a big part of their existence. Slaves were permitted to have religion, and they were even allowed to attend white people’s church sometimes (Alabama, Aarons – Young). Some slave owners so much encouraged religion they even had the slaves’ children baptized (Charles Coles, Baltimore, Maryland). Religion was sometimes the only thing the slaves were allowed to learn about (Maryland, Brooks-Williams). The only time anyone is somewhat okay with slaves learning is in the context of the bible. Bibb remarks that religion was very important to him and the other slaves he knew (Bibb, 22).
  9. Freedoms, liberties, rights: They had only what their owners allowed them, which was usually not much. The slaves had almost every privilege stripped of them. So much so that many of them did not even know how old they were at the end of their enslavement. They had even lost their right to be a human being with a birthday (Maryland, Brooks-Williams) (Alabama, Aarons-Young). Slaves have no human laws applied to them. Therefore if they do something wrong in the eyes of society, the only law that applies is “lynch law” (Bibb, 24).
  10. Slaves views of the whites: They were probably very contemptuous and scared of the whites. Slaves may have loved certain members of the families they worked for and the owners may have loved them, as well (Alabama, Aarons-Young). Slaves put little stock into what their owners say because they believe all their words have been twisted to promote slavery and hide away anything that disagrees with those findings (Bibb, 23).
  11. Slaves’ view of slavery and freedom: Slaves probably viewed that as a foregone conclusion; meaning they did not think that would ever happen. Some slaves thought poor, unemployed people were worse off than slaves (Maryland, Brooks-Williams). Some slaves frequently ran away. Also, sometimes the constant trading or selling of slaves made the slaves really start to yearn for their freedom even more so (Bibb, 17). Many slaves believed that they were destined to die in slavery (Bibb, 24).
  12. My understanding of slavery is from what I have learned in history classes and from reading books and watching films based in that time period.


I learned about many interesting, personal stories from people that were once slaves. Their stories were touching, but altogether very different. Each person had a totally unique circumstance. While many people had a few overlapping truths, not one owner and their rules and regulations were identical to another. Essentially, part of slavery that could be quite terrible was how the owners behaved and treated their slaves. Some former slaves remembered their owners with fondness and claimed a mutual love existed. Some raved about the conditions and how their lives were better than the poor people on the street. Some slaves did not run away because they weren’t sure there was anything better. However, other people felt enraged with their situations and rightfully tormented that their liberty was non-existent. Slavery is something somebody like me, a privileged white girl, could not begin to fathom, but personal recollections and accounts of the tragedy help us learn the facts.

9 thoughts on “Assignment 2”

  1. That slavery ever existed in Ohio was also a revelation to me. I knew that Maryland was a slave state, as it decided to remain neutral during the war. But that a northern, midwestern state ever held slaves was pretty shocking to me.

  2. I think you pointed out an important part of slavery in that many slaves believed they would die in slavery. I had always thought about slavery in the context of it eventually ending but for slaves before the civil war there was no end in sight. The hopelessness of their position and the uncertainty of there being a better life if they were able to escape must have made their lives even worse than just the hard labor and terrible conditions.

  3. Some slave were educated by their owners wives or other family member who developed a relationship with them. I was not aware that the white families that were caught teaching slaves how to read were fined. WKAR PBS has the original document on their website and it also stated the reasoning behind the fear of slaves being taught. The reasoning behind the fear was that if slaves were taught literacy, it would compromise the slavery system and the slaves would no longer be dependent on them for their survival.

  4. The varying accounts by former slaves really shed some light on how the different conditions and especially the character of their owners could result in completely different experiences. It’s understandable how a slave would feel grateful to an owner who treated him well and maybe consider himself lucky in comparison to those who weren’t as fortunate. I can only imagine how dehumanizing it must have been to be owned by someone and have no rights what so ever.

  5. Learning that slaves worked 12 hours a day makes me question what they did for the rest of their days. With no education, no rights, and no means of traveling far, what could they do doing their “time off”? Slaveholders would often prevent their slaves from getting an education (perhaps to try to limit strategic and intelligible slave uprisings?) which I find revolting. Education is so important to the evolution of a group. The lack of education probably helped keep the slaves on a lower tier from the views of society.

  6. During the civil war, Slavery in the South part of America had become critical by publishing Civil Law. As the growth of the agriculture, slavery played an important role which helped the economy significantly increasing the profit and output. Most of the slaves had a hard time, but the situation could be varied. Even though it was the foundation of US economy, it is definitely terrible since we all born to be equal.

  7. I think a universality between everyone’s findings regarding slavery is that the slave experience is not a singular narrative, but one that varies from person to person. Plantation to plantation. To read the narratives, however, isn’t always quite getting the facts. Do bear in mind that many stories, detailed as they are, are recollections decades after, which leads me to question precisely how reliable – or factual – some of the information may be.

  8. We had many similar ideas of what slavery was like in our original assumptions. I also found it interesting what you said about how slaves were mostly considered to be in the South. Considering how far north your account shows slaves were was very eye opening and made me realized that slavery was not just confined to the South.

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