Twelve Years A Slave

Topics: Slavery in the United States, Slavery, Southern United States Pages: 7 (2674 words) Published: February 22, 2004
After reading a copy of Solomon Northup's Twelve Years A Slave, I was overwhelmed with his experience. He was born a free man in New York in 1808. In 1841 he was tricked, captured, and sold into slavery in Washington, D.C. Throughout his book, Solomon goes into details describing his life as a slave, which validates our critique of slavery. As abolitionists, it is our duty to do something about slavery. Although, as abolitionists, we have a history of disagreements among us, it time to put stop to our arguments and start fighting for something we all believe in - to abolish slavery. While the growing cotton economy has made slavery more attractive than ever before to most southern people, slavery has to be abolished based on these reasons: first, because slaves are treated inhumanly; second, because it makes southern white society savage and cruel, and third, it turns southern whites into greedy and lazy people.

One of the main reasons that slavery should be abolished is because masters treat their slaves inhumanly. Masters disregard the idea of family among slaves. Although they encourage slave marriage, they do so out of selfish reasons. Slaves who have families are likely to have kids, who will become property of the master after birth, and at the same time they are least likely to run away. In addition, the actual law does not provide any protection or recognition of slave marriage or family, which discourages the formation of family among slaves . Just like the law, masters do not take families into consideration and are reluctant to break slave families by sale. For example when Eliza was sold, she begged her new master to purchase her daughter as well. However, Freeman would not sell Emily, because "there were piles of money to be made of her when she was a few years older" . In addition, the marriage of a slave woman didn't protect her against sexual abuse by her master or his friends. In fact, female slaves were often raped by their masters, which explains growing population of mulatto's .

Making it impossible for slaves to for a family, is not the only way that masters mistreated their slaves. Slaves were treated as animals or a piece of property. Epps looked at all colored man, "not at human being, but as a chatter personal, as mere live property, no better, except in value, than his mule or dot" . Angelina Grimke talks about daily abuse that slaves had to face. They were called names such as, fools, liars, sluts, husseys, good-for-nothing creatures and many more. She adds that "every natural and social feeling and affection are violated with indifference [by masters]; slaves are treated as through they did not possess them" .

Garrison, who is one of the nation's most famous abolitionists, also feels that slaves are treated inhumanly and he contrasts his situation in jail to the situation of the slaves. He feels that the only similarity among slaves and prisoners is that they are "confined to the narrow limits" of property, slaves to plantation and him to a prison-yard. In regards to everything else, he argues that t a life of a prisoner is much better than of a slave. He said that his food is better "I get a pound of bread and a pound of mean with supply of pure water" , he can lie down, walk, sit as he pleases, he can talk to his friends, if it were to rain he has protection, if he were to get sick he can get medical attention, and he has "privilege of a trial by jury to satisfy the demands of justice" . Slaves on the other hand aren't as lucky; they rarely get meals and only get a "peck of corn" ; they have to get up by the sun rise otherwise they will be whipped; if they get sick, they still must work just as much as when they are healthy; medical attention is rarely provided; they do not have any friends; and the law doesn't help them. Garrison also argued that colonization was a fraud, designed to promote racial purity of the North, whereas it was doing absolutely nothing to end slavery in the...
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