The Life of a Slave

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The Life of a Slave Imagine, if you will, rising earlier than the sun, eating a mere “snack”- lacking essentially all nutritional value - and trekking miles to toil in the unforgiving climate of the southern states, and laboring until the sun once again slipped under the horizon. Clad only in the rags your master provided (perhaps years ago), you begin walking in the dark the miles to your “home.” As described by the writers Jacob Stroyer and Josiah Henson, this “home” was actually a mere thatched roof, that you built with your own hands, held up by pathetic walls, over a dirt floor and you shared this tiny space with another family. Upon return to “home,” once again you eat the meager rations you were provided, and fall into bed only to begin again the next day. Day in and day out you faced brutality by your master, unbearable labor, and slow starvation, and watched your family do the same. Such was the life of a slave in the antebellum south: relentless, unforgiving, and tragic. The life of a slave was one plagued by shifting loyalties, struggle for survival, and prayers for a brighter future, if not for oneself at least for children and grandchildren. So, exactly what was it to be a slave? It was exactly that, to be property of another, treated as a commodity that could be replaced if needed, thrown out on a whim, and neglected without a care. Living and breathing creatures, humans, were herded like cattle in and out of the fields and boarded in similar conditions, if not poorer, than the livestock. Slaves had no rights to express their feelings (for their conditions or each other), or even be “alive.” Slaves faced the total shattering of their culture (for those brought from Africa to the Americas) as well as th... ... middle of paper ... ...on, and Olaudah Equiano for an authentic account of what it was to be a slave. Starvation, separation, and death were always at the forefronts of their lives and minds. A slave was not treated humanly; he was treated as an animal. Masters felt as though they deserved medals for protecting these “incapables”, but reality has shown us that slaves were far from it. Many who were able to escape their bonds wrote eloquent and intelligent accounts of their lives and victimizations as slaves. Such were the caliber of these writings that I would venture to say most masters could not pen such an articulate anthology of their lives. The institution of slavery is one of the greatest travesties of recent history. There is no reason now or ever for any man to force another into bondage, especially when the forcing is done by brute force alone. Every man is created equal.

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