slavery








The Slaves’ And The Slaveowners’ Views Of Slavery

“That face of his, the hungry cannibals
Would not have touched, would not have stained with blood;--
But you are more inhuman, more inexorable,
Oh! ten times more than tigers of Hyrcania.”

Shakespeare



I chose the topic about slavery for my research paper because I thought it would be an interesting experience doing research about slavery. It is American history and the more we know about it, the better we can understand what is going on today in our country. I think that because slavery was abolished very recently in terms of historical periods of time, it still has an impact on today’s economic and political life. Searching for the writings by slave owners was a more difficult task then searching for the writings by slaves. However, I found a lot of useful material in various sources.
The slavery in the United States is no doubt a shameful history of our country. White people transferred the slaves living in Africa to the New Land and treated them as their property, not as human beings. The living and working conditions of slaves and their food were extremely poor. Those were inhuman conditions in which the slaves had to survive. Endless executions of the slaves made the situation even worse. Slavery was a period of time when one race treated the other race as animals, things, property, but not as people. Unfortunately, not everyone saw the situation as it was in reality at that time. As we can see from many different sources available today, the points of view of slaves and slave owners on slavery were the opposite to each other. That can be seen in various slaves’ and slave owners’ descriptions of slavery. Slaves described their dwellings, food, clothes, labor, and the terrible treatment of slaves by their masters. On the other hand, slave owners described the relationships between slaves and their masters in a very positive way. They argued that slavery is very beneficial for the slaves and the slaves are very happy to live with their masters. Let us now consider both these points of views in details.
First of all, let us look at the slaves’ description of the cloth they wore. The clothes supply was as minimum as possible and the quality of the clothes was very bad. Here is how one of the slaves describes it. “Our dress was of tow cloth; for the children nothing but a shirt; for the older ones a pair of pantaloons or a gown in addition, according to the sex. ... In winter, a round jacket or overcoat, a wool hat once in two or three years, for the males, and a pair of coarse shoes once a year”(Lester 65). This scanty list of items was the only things available to the slaves. Certainly, it was not enough for the people who worked very hard for more than ten hours a day. The clothes were very dirty and with holes all over the place pretty soon. Imagine if you have to wear the same shirt day after day for the long time. The masters did not care about slaves’ children; they did not distribute much clothes for them either. According to the slaves, it was their problem what to put on their children when it was cold outside (Feldstein 45). However, some slaves say there were some masters who gave some extra material for the children, but it was not sufficient any way. Others gave any additional clothes only for extra work (Feldstein 45).
As for the slave owners’ seeing the slaves’ situation, one of the slaveholders reveals that he used to distribute new clothes once a year (Feldstein 45). This testimony by the slave owner actually testifies the slaves’ descriptions of the slavery that makes us believe to the slaves even more. However, there were a lot of slave owners who saw the situation quite differently. One anonymous slave owner in his letter to Lord Brougham argues that “...as a slave, he [a black person] would have at least the protection of one master interested in his welfare; as a freeman, almost beyond the pale of government protection, with no one to take care of him, of a despised and inferior race, a