preview

Slavery Essay

Satisfactory Essays
Slavery was one of the most disturbing acts to ever happen to African Americans. It was considered inhumane to the abolitionists in the North. Slave owners and the people of the South would use the Bible to justify their despicable actions. It all began when slaves were brought to the North American colony of Jamestown, Virginia to help with the production of crops such as tobacco. Slaves endured many hardships such as being raped, beaten, and overworked by their slave masters. They were hardly considered as people to the white Americans.
Slavery was ubiquitous throughout the American colonies in the 17th and 18th centuries. Slaves would get so frustrated with the abuse they received and would try to run away to the North, where African Americans could become free citizens. The North abolished slavery later in time because it wasn’t as dependent on it as to the South. Spirituals sung by slaves were vital to the escape of runaway slaves.
A Slave’s Knowledge
Proof that would help back up what is being said is that most slaves didn’t know how to read or write so they would use song to communicate without their slave owners’ understanding what was being said. This would inadvertently allow slaves to speak to one another in codes. Different songs told slaves specific things on how to escape or what to look out for. This was a beneficial way of communicating without their masters understanding the codes. Without slave masters knowing the slaves plan, they had a higher chance of escaping unnoticed until the daytime.
Song Types
The slaves would have two types of signals through Negro Spirituals. The two types of coded spirituals were signal songs and map songs. In a signal song, a singer or group of singers communicated in code that...

... middle of paper ...

...nd meaning of the music to the very end of the slave’s life.
“Wade in the Water” is a perfect example of a coded Negro Spiritual. Its code is basically telling the slaves when you successful escape from the plantation and are trying to connect to the next landmark on the Underground Railroad, make sure you wade in the water to throw the bloodhounds off your scent. When slave masters discovered the escape of a slave, they would usually take off on their horses with their guns and bloodhounds. Bloodhounds would sniff one of the slave’s personal items so they can learn their smell.
Using bloodhounds was an efficient way of finding escapees. When found, their masters would whip the slaves brutally to the brink of death. To circumvent these problems, this song would instruct slaves on what to do when past the “break out” part and would help navigate them to the North.
Get Access