Examination of the Slave Experience

Topics: Slavery in the United States, American Civil War, Black people Pages: 4 (1276 words) Published: March 27, 2006
Examination Of The Slave Experience

Examination of the Slave Experience Most African Americans of the early to mid-nineteenth century experienced slavery on plantations similar to the experiences described by Frederick Douglass; the majority of slaves lived on units owned by planters who had twenty or more slaves. The planters and the white masters of these agrarian communities sought to ensure their personal safety and the profitability of their enterprises by using all the tactics-physical and psychological-at their command to make slaves obedient. Even Christianity was manipulated in a way that masters communicated to their slaves that God had commanded them to obey their masters. Hence, by word and deed whites tried to convince blacks that they had been ordained superior thus affording them the right to rule over blacks. However, it is a great tribute to the extraordinary resourcefulness and spirit of African Americans that most of them resisted these pressures and managed to retain an inner sense of their own individuality and worth. Still, the reason why African Americans were able to maintain a sense of individuality and worth remains disputed. Only a tiny fraction of all slaves ever took part in organized acts of violent resistance against white power. Most realized as Frederick Douglass did that the odds against a successful revolt were very high, and bitter experience had shown them that the usual outcome was death to the rebels. Consequently, they devised sublime, safer and more ingenious ways to resist white dominance. For Frederick Douglass, it was clear that his way of fighting the power was to become educated so that he may better understand his predicament and the wrongfulness of slavery. However, he described that knowing that: wit…[was] the pathway from slavery to freedom. (pg. 58) …Reading… enabled me to utter my thoughts, and to meet the arguments brought forward to sustain slavery; but while [it] relieved me of one difficulty, [it] brought...
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