Slavery In The South During The Antebellum Period History Essay
“Before the 15th century, 12 million African women, men and their children had been forced onto European vessels for a life of slavery in the Western Hemisphere. A majority of Africans were captured or bought within the interior of the continent and approximately 9 to 10 million Africans survived the crossing of the Atlantic and are purchased by planters and traders in the New World, where they worked mainly as slave laborers in plantation economies which had required a large workforce. The Africans having been transported from numerous coastal ports in West Africa and hundreds of trading sites along the coast as far south as Angola, and from ports in Mozambique in southeast Africa (Monaghan 11). The early history of European slave trade with Africa was the capture of people in the interior of Africa and brought to the New World and sold as properties (Monaghan 12-14). A majority of the enslaved were females whom were purchased to work as servants, agricultural laborers, or concubines. A portion of these captives were also shipped north across the deserts of northwest Africa to the Mediterranean coast. Like many other Atlantic traders, most slave vessels were small, relatively inexpensive, and rapid in speed. Most slave vessels made only a few voyages to Africa and transported between 250 and 300 slaves (Bailey 126). When a slave vessel had arrived on the African coast, trade was secured by a variety of custom payments to local African rulers or merchants. The ships’ Captains also paid fees to African sailors who conducted these slave vessels across sandbars to anchorages (Monaghan 19). The captains' first tasks included purchasing or gathering the wood, water, and other supplies from shore. These supplies were essential for the carpenter to build a barricade for the slaves to stay in. Not only did the Europeans capture the Africans for their labor, but the value of the European goods was traded for Africans due to the value of goods that had been exchanged for gold. It shows that over time, these gold forts had become slavery forts, while hundreds of Africans were enclosed in barricades awaiting sale and shipment (Bancroft 99). While in parts of Africa, it can be seen that a trust trade developed as European captains advanced trading goods to African slave dealers with the promise of future slave deliveries.
In the New World, the most destructive forced was used as an introduction to the slave market. It was to have the established slave families been torn apart and divided mothers from children and husbands from wives. Despite this tragedy against humanity, slaves would try to find family members or close relatives. The slave traders were intentionally divided due to the purposes of the slave holders and this had weakened them. There were adversities faced by generations of slaves, they had been perceived as less than human, did not deter their desire to seek mates, court, marry and have children (Johnson 30). The slave buyers and the slave traders were similar in such that the slave buyers had believed they were competitors to the slave traders and their practice of selling slaves for one another. The slave traders’ had many concerns about their properties such as boarding expenses, keeping their slaves from escaping and protecting themselves from their properties (Johnson 61). Slaves were often assaulted, especially women who were often sexually abused by their traders and threatened to kill their baby if she did not give it away. Many slaves lived a vulnerable life and the weak support they had between each other, that they were no match for the slave traders’ power. TOTAL: 583 Words
The slave market had consisted of different power relationships existing between three major groups of people. There were the plantation owners or masters whom were known as the slave buyers. The slave traders had full authority over slaves before they were sold which meant that the slaves themselves were inferior to all. The slave buyers and traders had a desire to better themselves for the future, acted in relentless ways which shaped the Antebellum Period. As a result, these groups of people were able to manipulate one another through mental and physical influence. Hence, the slaves, traders and buyers were intertwined in a chain, this shows that they all relied on one another and had irrational thoughts. Matter of fact, white men were authorized to have various positions in slave marketing that some were hired to be speculators for slave holders (Johnson 46). They had practical jobs such as interstate traders, local dealers, brokers and salaried employees. In some cases, slave traders had made a fortune as a lifetime career and others made slave trading as a way to make extra money on the side of another job that they had (Johnson 46). The traders had packaged and distributed slaves within various categories due to the requests of slaveholders from past experiences and inferences. They not only treated people as products but their profits had depended on regulating the humanity of people they have bought and sold (Johnson 47). Since it was a successful yet profitable business, traders were careless with treatment of their slaves; they had both beaten and healed their slaves. In order to maintain an organized business, they kept slave records of selling slaves in various states within markets (Stampp 114). This was mainly hand-written records of lists indicating names, numbers and prices; it had been essential that they kept track of successful sales during specific sales year round.
As this large business became more successful, it had relied heavily on the exportations and transportation of flesh by interstate traders. The amount of infamous dealers’ names was fairly acknowledged due to their advertisements and loose talks about their business at salons (Stamp 260). As seen in a slave sale advertisement, a trader by the name of N.B Forest is calling for attention to a new shipment of slaves coming in from North Carolina. He describes the slaves as newly imported products in which their fleshes had been made for heavy and physical labor; he portrays the slaves to have weak characteristics in which they are naïve and close-minded so that they will not resist against their slaveholder’s demands. Many of these slaveholders were extremely stringent with their demands and they were perhaps the best customers for the interstate traders. Interstate traders were the best known for selling slaves to rich families in Virginia, Maryland, Louisiana and South Carolina (Johnson 48). Wealthier families owned a vast amount of land and they needed as much help on the plantation as possible, whether it had been domestic servants or cotton picking slaves, they were happy with plenty of help around the plantation. The traders had given their slaves harsh treatments; tied and chained together until the traders decided to stop at large trading centers to show off their stock (Stamp 263). Both traders and slaveholders were affiliated with one another; they both had used violence and abuse to discipline their slaves before a sale was closed. Traders who were selling slaves had lined their slaves up for inspection until a slave had been purchased by their new master.
Although, professional traders earned great wealth, some had lost money and failed. This was due to the bearings of transporting the slaves until they were sold. Also, traders had risked losses through sickness, death and escape of their slaves. They had to adapt to the least inhumane methods of their profession as well (Stamp 265). The slave market had done to make the real people represent the constructed categories created by the traders. And the traders had to try to turn them into money. Slave owners had to examine bodies of slaves and invested in greater amounts for slaves of darker skin color and signals of any severe injuries.
The important of slave color was the main aspect of a slave; this had been a visible sign to the owners that the blackest slaves were the healthiest ones (Johnson 139). Their darker skin color had reflected their experience working outdoors as a cotton or sugar slave, it also showed that they were healthy and physically well-developed for any damages done to their body. However, slaveholders also looked for any broken bones, internal injuries and illnesses. These were disadvantages for the slave to be sold. They had searched for mostly hidden problems before purchasing any individuals. After the examination was over, slave owners looked for solutions to their problems; these bodies of the slaves they had saw in the market. The men were arranged on one side of the room while the women on the other and the tallest were placed at the head of the row and so on in order of their respective heights. Slaveholders discovered their needs and wants in these slave pens and if slaves had passed their health inspections they were bought (Bancroft 331). These examinations had been traditional among slave markets and there were no say on the violation of black bodies; it was an unjustified ritual and another purpose of slavery.
Once bought, slaves were faced with new challenges outside of the slave market and into an unfamiliar setting (Blassingame 40). Whether they were household servants or cotton picking slaves, those that were recently sold to a new environment were challenged with new tasks that they had never seen before. Abuse was a common factor in the life of a slave due to their unskilled labor and poor quality of work. Hence, slaves found their plantation to be dreadful and would rather live the life assigned to them within the slave market (Johnson 194). Generations of slaves worked for the same family and older, more experienced slaves took charge of disciplining the young slaves rather than giving the masters’ a brutal chance at abuse (Schwartz 163).
The rich slave owners could typically ‘afford’ to whip their slaves and treat them horribly. They had the mentality of gaining profit, where the majority of slave owners had the mentality of surviving. Although, slaves were beaten in American but the majority of slaves were considered to the financial gain of their owners and needed them in top physical condition. The slaves were beaten and whipped if they did not carry out their jobs properly and if they tried to escape from the plantation that they lived on. The price of a slave was not low but rather high and costly. Along with differentiation of ages, there were different prices of buying and selling slaves. A younger and healthier slave would be much more profitable when bought, because they are capable of working long hours and producing twice as much labor as an elderly and unhealthy slave. Older slaves were either sold for a cheaper price or assigned work within the plantation. Cruelty had degraded the lives of African Americans and forbade the natural rights that each individual would deserves under the Constitution. The three major factors of cruelty that were prevalent in their lives were living conditions, working conditions and loss of fundamental rights. Working conditions for slaves were not as worsened as it sounded. Though slaves had worked from dusk to dawn, they did have some time of their own at night. Slaves described their lives to be busy and their hands were to handle any situations (Johnson 150). The majority had lived in constant fear of punishment during work, and it was the very same fear that made them obey. Slaves were aware that their masters would not be content unless their orders have been fully completed, if not they know that they must suffer (151).
A complex idea would be debatable as that slaves being treated differently by different classes. It’s said that “whether or not the slaves were sick, resistant or simply unskilled, slave holders often beat them for not living up to the expectations that had been attached to them in the slave market” (Aaron 205). Perhaps the poor slave owners treated their slaves better, typically provided them with what little they had for help with farming and other domestic tasks. The rich slave owners could typically ‘afford’ to whip their slaves and treat them horribly. They withheld the mentality of gaining profit, as the majority of slave owners had the mentality of surviving. However, beating slaves was on a daily basis. Despite the fact that they have a large workload waiting for them, they had to complete tasks and chores with those beatings in order to survive the next day. If they ran away, they chose to risk their life at a very dangerous level because if they were caught they would be severely punished by their owner, setting an example of the inevitable consequences that would follow if any of other slave members were to do the same.
Enslaved people had a measurable monetary value for their masters (Johnson 25). The relationship between market and slave situation was that slavery had been a sale of slaves due to benefits and advantages of the owner while the market was where every slave was always on sale. The slaves were valued much more then the value attached to land (Stamp 270). Slaveholders had usually sold their slaves to traders for reasonable explanations such as being sold to pay for debts to support their owner’s personal affairs. Many that found out they were to be sold or traded in had run away. Slave children were traded in so often that they lost count of their age and made up any age they wanted (Schwartz 161). Runaway slaves were exposed to isolation, hunger, tracking dogs and even death where there were threats of violent captures and severe punishment (Johnson 31). Back on the plantations, there had been some masters who objected physical abuse and cruelty towards their slaves.
Slaveholders who were too busy associating with their personal affairs had hired other authority figures to maintain the work ethics of the slaves. However, some overseers were extremely violent and abusive that the slaveholders had fired these men who strike slaves with whips and an excessive use of abuse (Stamp 178). These beatings had contributed to the unhealthy being and therefore, cannot perform good quality work nor were they sold for a fair price.”
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