The Portuguese, in the 1600’s, began exporting a number of the slaves to the New World. Here, the slaves were shipped off to many different colonies’ lands. For example, some slaves were sent to the Spanish colonies to work. Also some were sent to Virginia and Brazilian colonies to work on plantations. States like Alabama and Mississippi which depended on cotton, had large populations of enslaved people.
Plantation slaves had small cabins they lived in which had dirt floors and little to no furniture. The cabins were no escape from the cold winter winds. The domestic slaves, however, received better cabins, working conditions, and food than the field slaves. Many large plantations often needed some slaves to work inside the plantation home. These slaves that worked inside sometimes were able to travel with the master’s family. Plantation house slaves cleaned, cooked, served meals, and took care of the master’s children. The slaves that were drivers were often convinced by the master to manage their fellow slaves because they were promised that they would be treated differently and obtain better privileges. Drivers were usually hated by the rest of the slaves, leading to violence among slaves and drivers.
It was normal for the slave owners in the south, to break apart the families; keeping some, selling some when they needed to raise money. The separation and sales of the slaves were repeated thousands of times throughout the slaveholding states. Many slave children, after they were broken off from their families, had only the faintest memory of their siblings and parents. Slave owners also didn’t realize some slaves were married. The married slave couples could be
split up and sold at anytime. Music and religion were the sources of strength for the slaves, and they sparked both with African culture and meaning.
Life in the fields meant working sun up to sun down for six days a week. Overseers were people who were paid to get the most labor out the slaves. Therefore, they often had to do whatever it took to get them to work, if it were to beat them, whip them, whatever. A child’s labor around the age of twelve became almost identical to an adult’s work. Pregnant women were expected to work until the child was born and after the birth, the woman worked in the field with the child strapped to her back.
Rape happened often on the plantations, and very few cases were ever heard of by the southern public. It was not unusual for white masters and their female slaves to have children together....