Slavery During The 19th Century Essay

Slavery During The 19th Century Essay

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The period between the late 16th- 18th century marked the rise and fall of a harsh and oppressive system of forced labor known as slavery. Both men and women were forced into demanding field work, mental torture, and denied basic human rights. Slaves (regardless of sex) were systematically beaten, separated from their families, and were treated as property. Whole communities were broken and destroyed. But, somehow the slave narrative has been limited to the experience of the men. Books, entertainment and the media are flooded with the stories of the men. If someone was to search “slave” into Google, the results would be filled with pictures and drawings of black men. Women were as essential to slavery as their male counterparts. The intersection of their sex and race played a crucial part in their family structure, the work they endured, and the relationship with their slaveholders. Discounting the role that female slaves had is a great injustice. In the great words of Abigail Adams “remember the ladies.”
Needless to say slavery made family life nearly impossible. Marriages amongst slaves was as one would expect unstable. This resulted from lack of socioeconomic power. Slaves were regarded as property. Thus, they could not legally get married. However, there were couples who got married in spite of the government. It was a way of forming some stability in their lives. In order to get married in these slave communities the couple had to “jump the broom”. The couple would hold hands and jump over a broom. It was a way to create new customs. The tradition of “jumping the broom” originated from Ghana. It symbolizes the sweeping away of the past and starting anew. This ceremony gave their unions legitimacy within their communities. ...


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...es where the mistresses would step if the master was being too harsh. This was dependent on the mistresses’ relationship with the slave at hand.
Slavery had distressing effects on the men and women alike. But, the women were the key to their master’s success. Being a woman alone has its struggles now, couple that with being black in the 16th to 18th century. It was an emotionally and physically taxing position to be in. Being a black woman during slavery affected not only her role in her family, what jobs she took on, but her relationship with their owners as well. Their families were constantly on shaky grounds. They worked just as much as the men. All the while under the gaze and wrath of their masters. Every role the women played was interdependent. Their contributions were crucial not only to the advancement of their designated plantations but to this country.

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