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Born In Bondage: Growing Up Enslaved In The Antebellum South By Marie Jenkins Schwartz

900 words - 4 pages

Born in BondageChildren in the Antebellum South were very important to both the slave families and the owners of these slave families. Many things were vital in the raising of a slave child and the parents did their best to fulfill these duties. One of these duties was Nurturing. Every child needs attention and love in order to grow up healthy and this was one thing that slave parents tried to supply their children with. Second was discipline. The slave parent had to keep the child "in line" in order to keep the child alive. Finally, the protection of their child was a major step that slave parents took to keep their child alive and healthy even if it might result in the parent receiving harsh punishment.The families of slaves were no different to the families of free people when it came to the nurturing of their children. However, some slaves did find it hard to make time to attend to their families due to the extensive amounts of work that was required of them in the fields but they still did their best to give love to the children. Even some slave owners knew the importance of the nurturing of children. Some would even give time off to the mother of a new born even though he knew that it would slow down immediate production of the crops. Many slave owners made this sacrifice in order to insure a future for the plantation. Since infant and child mortality rates were high amongst slaves in the Antebellum South it was important that every child get the amount of attention required for it to grow into a healthy adult. However, some owners didn't think much about future profits and would work a pregnant mother as much as they could. "One strategy promised immediate profits; the other assured long-term gain." (Pg. 4) The parents weren't the only ones who cared for the children. The whole community of slaves looked over the children but one main person was assigned to the job of "adult supervisor". The children that were the ages of three to five were assigned a smaller child to look after while the adult supervisor watched over them. One witness described what took place at a nursery, "Near each baby sat or played a small boy or girl who had been detailed to care for that especial baby..." (Pg. 86) Therefore, even if the parents couldn't find enough time to tend to the children someone in the slave community could help in the raising.The families of these children tried their best to teach the child basic knowledge to survive on the...

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