America in the mid-1800s the North and the South had numerous differences but also they shared several similarities. According to McPherson many people saw these two societies as one people; they shared the same language, they fought for the same freedoms from England, share an interconnected economy and shared the same Constitution. Even at the beginning of the Republic they shared the common bond of owning slaves. But eventually the North and South began to pull in different directions and began to segregate in to two different cultures.
In McPherson’s article he states that in both the Northern and Southern society’s white supremacy was a standard way of thinking but the two had different scales from which they measured.1 We can see instances of this in Harriet Jacobs Incidents in the Life of a Slave Girl. Harriet, or Linda in the narrative, tells about slaves being punished by their owners. The Southerners treated the African-Americans with very little dignity as if inhuman. “He [a slave] was divested of his clothes, except his shirt, whipped, and tied to a large tree in front of the house.” In another section she describes a slave being pinned between the screws of a cotton gin after being lashed as a punishment of disobeying. Slave owners did this to keep African-Americans from gaining any sense of self-worth because when the slave thinks that they are not worthy of rights, they are easier to control and essentially become a piece of machinery to the owner.
But we can’t fully say that the Northerners at this time were gods compared to the Southerners on the treatment of blacks. The North gave slaves an opportunity for a different life. But it wasn’t always free fun for the Northern African Americans; the North had its faults. In Jacobs’s narrative she speaks about one of them. It was when she did make it to the north and was on a trip from Philadelphia to New York by train. Here she learned that it wasn’t all equal rights in the north as many people perceived it to be. “This was the first chill to my enthusiasm about the Free States. Colored people were allowed to ride in a filthy box, behind white people, at the south, but there they were not required to pay for the privilege. It made me sad to find how the north aped the customs of slavery.”2 But African-Americans had more freedoms in the North then the South like education. In Jacobs’s book we see that her children were able to go to school and get an education. This is unlike the South where most African Americans were only able to be educated by fellow African Americans or by slave owners that were willing to educate them. We also see examples of free labor in the North with Jacobs’s book. She told of African Americans that were able to get jobs and support their families instead of being forced to work for someone.2 But African Americans still weren’t considered to be equal to the white Anglo-Saxton persons.
Yet again we see more misconduct toward African American slaves in...