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African American History Essay

1188 words - 5 pages

June Kight
The Institution of Slavery
Bethel University

The Institution of Slavery
When we think about the institution of slavery we automatically assume that they were completely dominated by their owners. Although this was mostly true, there were many slaves that resisted and fought back. Sometimes the slaves fought back by being blatantly disobedient to their masters. Other times the slaves rebelled covertly, sneaking and doing things that were forbidden for them. Whether the slaves started a rebellion, ran away or resisted their day to day responsibilities, the found ways to rebel. The slaves were even successful in many of their attempts at rebelling.
One of the main reasons that ...view middle of the document...

More extreme cases of day to day to day rebellions consisted of slaves setting their masters property on fire or stealing. In some cases the slaves even managed to poison or kill their overseers or masters. Feigning an illness was an easy, reliable way to get out of working. It was easier for women to act like they were sick, especially if they were of child-bearing age. Some slaves even played upon the prejudice of their masters by acting as if they didn’t understand the instructions given to them. In dumbing themselves down, the slaves often were given a reprieve from performing their duties due to their ignorance. Actual slave rebellions, however, were the most violent of the slaves’ acts off resistance. Some of the most prominent slave rebellions included Gabriel Prossey’s rebellion, Denmark Vesey’s scheme and Nat Turner’s rebellion. Although there were undoubtedly many other slave rebellions, these are in the forefront of our history.
There are several ways that the slaves kept their kinship network intact. They built a sense of community with the other slaves that lived on the plantation with them. They kept the cultural and spiritual traditions of Africa alive. The slaves shared these traditions with their children as well as other slaves who were not born in Africa but America. Many slaves worked hard to maintain contact with their kinsmen, even if it included taking the risk of learning to read and write. Reading and writing enabled the slaves to keep in touch with their relatives who were sold to other plantations.
.As far as the slaves’ worldview goes; it depended on the treatment and living condition of each individual slave. Enslaved Africans encountered the beliefs and practices of European and Native American Indian cultures. For the slaves, family was the most important social relationship. Slaves, who were treated fairly and rarely punished, held their masters in high esteem. They spoke kindly of their masters. On the other hand, harsh slave owners were less respected by the slaves that they owned. They were looked upon as the enemy and the slaves made things hard for them by day to day resistance. The same thing can be said for slave owners who sexually abused black women. There was often a strain put on slave relationships when the women had to submit to their masters.
If we had no say in the day to day situations that we dealt with or any aspects of our lives, then we would feel powerless. That is the exact...

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