Slavery in American Society

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Slavery in American Society

Slavery in American Society focuses in the significance of the world the Slaves made. O. Patterson clearly defines how natal alienation allowed the master to undermine and control his slaves since some of the slaves cultural identities were taken away from them. The master believed that slave management would help keep the slaves loyal to himself and make the slaves a better worker. However, the slaves did manage to form strong personal ties to assure themselves of who they were culturally. There were many significant ways that shaped the slaves' world, such as religion, spirituals, family life and conjure. The slaves found ways in which they could unite and maintain some of their cultural and religious practices.

According to O. Patterson slaves at birth had lost their personal identity and the identity of who they were culturally. There was nothing for them to know except that they were to be loyal to their master and other white folk. Their new cultural identity was structured by the white master. As O. Patterson points out, "By natal alienation, the slave lost a birthright to his or her cultural existence, beyond what the master permitted, thus experiencing a kind of social death" (p.3). The inability for the slave population to create a social existence, since it was not allowed, could only mean that the whites believed that the slaves were dumb chattel with no capacity for human emotion. The master dominated over his slaves, so that he could exploit their labor. "The proprietor of this thing, the mover of this instrument, the soul and the reason of this body, the source of life, was the master" (p.7). Masters also considered their slaves to be inferior and, t...

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... Gutman points out, "Slave families were subject to masters decisions and behavior, which might result in the sale and geographic separation of family members" (p.161). Once a slave was purchased their new home and family would be the slave colony they were brought to. Here they would establish new family, identity and friendship.

In conclusion, Slavery in American Society is successful in providing critical evidence on the significance of the world the slaves made for themselves. The slave community was able to withstand many of the master's schemes to convert the slaves into more loyal and obedient workers. Also, the master was unable to stop the slaves from forming close personal ties within the community, however, the slaves were punished for such action if they were caught. The slaves managed to preserve their African culture to some extent as well.

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