Slavery played an overwhelming role throughout the history of the United States. The riches created by the unpaid labor of African Americans helped to guarantee the country’s industrial revolution and succeeding economic strength. Yet, that wealth created incredible political power for slaveholders and their representatives. African American slaves brought with them many languages, cultures and values, which helped shaped America and it’s exceptional cultural and natural environment. Continuing a brutally cruel system, African slaves developed a profound commitment to liberty and became a living testament to the powerful ideal of freedom.
The notion of slavery, as unpleasant as it is, must nonetheless be examined to understand the hardships that were caused in the lives of enslaved African-Americans. Without a doubt, conditions that the slaves lived under could be easily described as intolerable and inhumane. As painful as the slave's treatment by the masters was, it proved to be more unbearable for the women who were enslaved. Why did the women suffer a grimmer fate as slaves? The answer lies in the readings, Harriet Jacob's Incidents in the life of a Slave Girl and Olaudah Equiano's Interesting Narrative which both imply that sexual abuse, jealous mistresses', and loss of children caused the female slaves to endure a more dreadful and hard life in captivity.
Slavery is a very touchy and uncomfortable topic for many of us. It was a harsh, degrading, and painful part of American History, but due to the suffering of so many African Americans, laws were written and placed into action that we still live by today. Slavery has been a very important part of our history. It is the very reason that our country has evolved into a country of freedom and equality. The laws that have been written by our ancestors are why the United States is the melting pot that it has become with the diversity of cultures, religions, and ethnic backgrounds. Believe it or not, we (our country) went through the ugly part of our culture to get to what is now set up to protect not only Americans, but many people that now live in the United States today that are not quite American citizens.
Jacobs, Harriet, and Yellin, Jean. Incidents in the Life of a Slave Girl. Cambridge, Mass.: Harvard University Press
Jacobs, Harriet. Incidents In The Life Of A Slave Girl. 2nd Edition. Edited by Pine T. Joslyn. Mineola, New York: Dover Publications, INC., 2001.
Jacobs, Harriet Ann. "Incidents in the Life of a Slave Girl." Paul Laufer, ed. The Heath Anthology of American Literature, vol 1, 3rd ed. Boston: Houghton Mifflin Company,
In her story Incidents in the Life of a Slave Girl, Harriet Jacobs presents what life was like living as a female slave during the 19th century. Born into slavery, she exhibits, to people living in the North who thought slaves were treated fairly and well, how living as a slave, especially as a female slave during that time, was a heinous and horrible experience. Perhaps even harder than it was if one had been a male slave, as female slaves had to deal with issues, such as unwanted sexual attention, sexual victimization and for some the suffering of being separated from their children. Harriet Jacobs shows that despite all of the hardship that she struggled with, having a cause to fight for, that is trying to get your children a better life
A recurring theme in, Incidents in the Life of a Slave Girl, is Harriet Jacobs's reflections on what slavery meant to her as well as all women in bondage. Continuously, Jacobs expresses her deep hatred of slavery, and all of its implications. She dreads such an institution so much that she sometimes regards death as a better alternative than a life in bondage. For Harriet, slavery was different than many African Americans. She did not spend her life harvesting cotton on a large plantation. She was not flogged and beaten regularly like many slaves. She was not actively kept from illiteracy. Actually, Harriet always was treated relatively well. She performed most of her work inside and was rarely ever punished, at the request of her licentious master. Furthermore, she was taught to read and sew, and to perform other tasks associated with a ?ladies? work. Outwardly, it appeared that Harriet had it pretty good, in light of what many slaves had succumbed to. However, Ironically Harriet believes these fortunes were actually her curse. The fact that she was well kept and light skinned as well as being attractive lead to her victimization as a sexual object. Consequently, Harriet became a prospective concubine for Dr. Norcom. She points out that life under slavery was as bad as any slave could hope for. Harriet talks about her life as slave by saying, ?You never knew what it is to be a slave; to be entirely unprotected by law or custom; to have the laws reduce you to the condition of chattel, entirely subject to the will of another.? (Jacobs p. 55).
Jacobs, Harriet A. Incidents in the Life of a Slave Girl: Written by Herself. Ed. Jennifer Fleischner. Boston: Bedford/St. Martin's, 2010. Print.
Overview: Incidents in the life of a slave girl is written about herself, Harriet Ann Jacobs. She shares her story on her life and how slavery impacted her. Jacobs tells her story in chronological order and discusses the main problems with slavery. The points she made about the issues with slavery were based on the fact that they had no rights, were sold as property, and were beaten and forced into labor.