A Summary Of John Finnelly

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During the nineteenth century, there were many enslaved African Americans living in the Deep South. Most were enslaved for life and worked until their death. Suffering from harsh working conditions, lack of well-being, and mistreatment by slaveholders, slaves were not considered to be equal to the “common white man”. At first, in response to the growing economic importance of slavery for the south, it had been justified as a necessity to the United States economy. But over time, in response to growing criticism of the institution, some Southerners were beginning to defend the continuation of slavery as a positive good. They justified this in part by comparing the United States to that of Africa, the slaves home country. The Southerners argued…show more content…
He was a field worker, who owned no land of his own due to his lack of rights as an enslaved person. He was born into the life of slavery on December 15, 1807. His mother Janelle contemplated ending John’s life when he was born due to the brutality of slavery at the time. However, Janelle chooses to raise her child and fortunately he was not sold to another slaveholder. This made him somewhat unique since it was uncommon during the nineteenth century for slave families to not be separated or sold to another slaveholder. John began working at age five doing things such as collecting trash and firewood, scaring away crows, and running errands. Around the age of ten, John became a full-time field worker. As John was growing up, he frequently spent time with his mother who remarkably could read and she taught him the religion of Catholicism. When John’s mother died in 1819, he became resentful of his life as a slave. He precariously participated in slave fighting at night time with his fellow slave brothers. One night, his master caught John fighting in his slave cabin and brutally beat him with a 7-foot whip. This didn’t stop him from continuing his “career” in…show more content…
But due to the scarcity of documented voices from slaves themselves, many questions remain. When it comes to the topic of slave fighting in the nineteenth century antebellum South, most researchers will readily agree that it was present. Where this agreement usually ends is on the question of whether it was a role of enslaved men trying to assert their manhood or even an act of defiance. David P. Black states, “black men were never allowed to demonstrate their physical strength” (Lussana, 2). This is evidently one of the reasons that slave fighting was so prominent during the nineteenth century because it allowed them to show their strength and masculinity. Slave fighting allowed enslaved men to “stand tall. Momentarily in front of their male peers, they could prove themselves men: tough, resilient, and strong (Lussana,6). Not many times during a male slave’s life could they show any power or masculinity; whereas organized slave fighting allowed them to do
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