Frederick Douglass: The Psychological Approaches Used to Maintain the Institution of Slavery

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Within the “Narrative of the Life of Frederick Douglass: An American Slave” Douglass discusses the deplorable conditions in which he and his fellow slaves suffered from. While on Colonel Lloyd’s plantation, slaves were given a “monthly allowance of eight pounds of pork and one bushel of corn” (Douglass 224). Their annual clothing rations weren’t any better; considering the type of field work they did, what little clothing they were given quickly deteriorated. The lack of food and clothing matched the terrible living conditions. After working on the field all day, with very little rest the night before, they must sleep on the hard uncomfortably cramped floor with only a single blanket as protection from the cold. Coupled with the overseer’s irresponsible and abusive use of power, it is astonishing how three to four hundred slaves did not rebel. Slave-owners recognized that in able to restrict and control slaves more than physical violence was needed. Therefore in able to mold slaves into the submissive and subservient property they desired, slave-owners manipulated them by twisting religion, instilling fear, breaking familial ties, making them dependent, providing them with an incorrect view of freedom, as well as refusing them education. Slave-owners forced a perverse form of Christianity, one that condoned slavery, upon slaves. According to this false Christianity the enslavement of “black Africans is justified because they are the descendants of Ham, one of Noah's sons; in one Biblical story, Noah cursed Ham's descendants to be slaves” (Tolson 272). Slavery was further validated by the numerous examples of it within the bible. It was reasoned that these examples were confirmation that God condoned slavery. Douglass’s master... ... middle of paper ... ...understanding of freedom. By exposing the wrongs done to slaves, Douglass greatly contributed to the abolitionist movement. He also took back some of the power and control from the slaveholders, putting it in the hands of the enslaved. Works Cited "The Colonial Period: South Carolina Slave Code." Gale Encyclopedia of American Law. Ed. Donna Batten. 3rd ed. Vol. 13. Detroit: Gale, 2011. 52-55. Gale Virtual Reference Library. Web. 30 Apr. 2014. Boston, Nicholas. “The Slave Experience: Living Conditions.” PBS, 2004. Web. 29 Apr. 2014. Douglass, Frederick. Narrative of the Life of Frederick Douglass: An American Slave. Professor David Hennessy, 1845. Tolson, Claudette L. "White Supremacy." Encyclopedia of Race and Racism. Ed. Patrick L. Mason. 2nd ed. Vol. 4. Detroit: Macmillan Reference USA, 2013. 272-274. Gale Virtual Reference Library. Web. 29 Apr. 2014.
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