Mrs. Jacobs : The Slavery Of African Americans Essay

Mrs. Jacobs : The Slavery Of African Americans Essay

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Inspired by her hardships and tribulations during slavery, Mrs. Jacobs wrote this autobiography, recounting her experiences as a slave in the deep south and her eventual escape in the hopes of “[convincing] the people of the Free States [of] what Slavery really is” (Jacobs 6). In this inspiring novel, Mrs. Jacobs gives us authentic insight into this ‘peculiar institution’, the horrendous mistreatment of African Americans, and the attitudes of Northerners and Southerners toward the subject. While the work is mainly directed to Northern women in the hopes of increasing awareness and arousing sympathy, it sends a clear message to everyone, during her time and even today, about the intricate institution and Harriet’s stance on the matter.

Slaves during the antebellum period were treated fairly poorly, especially in the Deep South. To varying extents, depending on their master(s), culture, and environs, slaves were physically and verbally abused on a daily basis. Slaves were often beaten and whipped for any ‘offences’ the master(s) felt they needed to punish; and some were even to death. Additionally, slave women (and girls) were often sexually abused by their masters, bearing countless mulatto children fathered by their masters; and despite this fact, many slaveholders kept these children, their own blood, slaves. As they were largely considered and treated as property, large numbers were constantly separated and sold at auctions. Slaves’ chances of being freed were slim to none, allowing the vicious cycle of slavery to continue in the south. Besides being released by a gracious master’s will, their only hope of being free was to either run away or save up enough money to buy themselves and their loved ones. In spite of this, even ...

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...wer struggle between state and federal rights, the varying interpretations of the 10th amendment, and the ‘Slave Power’ conspiracy taking hold in the North. The North only fought against the institution to secure the common white man’s standing, believing that slavery would otherwise spread shaping the whole country into the South. The Union’s battles weren’t fought for the sake of racial equality; nay, they were fought, at least for the vast majority, to ensure America would remain a ‘white man’s land.’

In conclusion, while the work is clearly biased and fairly one-sided (all to be expected from a former slave), it does provide insight into slavery and the thoughts and attitudes towards the institution during that time. Finding an account from a former slave, much less a female, during that time was extremely rare, giving the reader a new perspective on the matter.

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