slavery and the plantation

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slavery and the plantation During the era of slavery in the United States, not all blacks were slaves. There were a many number of free blacks, consisting of those had been freed or those in fact that were never slave. Nor did all slave work on plantations. There were nearly five hundred thousand that worked in the cities as domestic, skilled artisans and factory hands (Green, 13). But they were exceptions to the general rule. Most blacks in America were slaves on plantation-sized units in the seven states of the South. And with the invent of the cotton gin by Eli Whitney, more slaves were needed to work the ever-growing cotton game (Frazier, 14). The size of the plantations varied with the wealth of the planters. There were small farmers with two or three slaves, planters with ten to thirty slaves and big planters who owned a thousand or more slaves. Scholars generally agree that slaves received better treatment on the small farms and plantation that did not employ overseers or general managers. Almost half of the slaves, however, live, worked and died on plantations where the owners assigned much of their authority to overseers. The plantation was a combination factory, village and police precinct. The most obvious characteristic was the totalitarian regime placed on the slave. One example of this was a communal nursery, which prepared slave children for slavery and made it possible for their mothers to work in the fields. The woman who cared for black children was commonly designated "aunty" to distinguish her from the "mammy", the nurse of white children. Sometimes one women cared for both white and black children. Boys and girls wandered in around in a state of near-nudity until they reached the age of work. On some plantations they were issued tow-linen shirts, on others they wore guano bags with holes punched in them for the head and arms. Children were never issued shoes until they were sent to the fields, usually at the age of six or seven. Young workers were broken in as water boys or in the the "trash gang." At the age of ten or twelve, children were given a regular field routine. A former slave recalls, "Children had to go to the fiel' at six on out place. Maybe they don't do nothin' but pick up stones or tote water, but thy got to get used to bein' there." (Johnson, 40-45) Cooking on the plantation was a collect... ... middle of paper ... ... with children would be less likely to attempt escape. The marriage ceremony was instructed by the wisest and most respected slave on the plantation, and included the ritual of jumping the broomstick. Males and females were expected to remain faithful after the marriage. The marriages lasted a long time, some thirty years or more. The life on the plantation was the only life known to a slave. Few slaves ever had the opportunity to leave the plantation so it was the only world they knew. One can think of a plantation as an isolated island, with occasional contact from the outside world. It was only through making contact with the outside world that slaves became aware that they too deserved freedom and gained the knowledge to obtain it. BIBLIOGRAPHY E.Franklin Frazier. Black Bourgeoisie. New York 1957 Berkin, Miller, Cherny, and Gormly. Making America: A History of the United States. Boston 1995. Douglass, Frederick. The Life and Times of Frederick Douglass. Hartford 1881. Johnson, Charles S. Shadow of the Plantation. Chicago 1941. Olmsted, Frederick Law. The Cotton Kingdom. New York 1948. Green, Bernard V. Bondage of a People. Miami 1991.
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