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Slavery In American Society Essay

1073 words - 4 pages

Slavery in American Society
Slavery in American Society focuses in the significance of the world the Slaves made. O. Patterson clearly defines how natal alienation allowed the master to undermine and control his slaves since some of the slaves cultural identities were taken away from them. The master believed that slave management would help keep the slaves loyal to himself and make the slaves a better worker. However, the slaves did manage to form strong personal ties to assure themselves of who they were culturally. There were many significant ways that shaped the slaves' world, such as religion, spirituals, family life and conjure. The slaves found ways in which they could unite and maintain some of their cultural and religious practices.
According to O. Patterson slaves at birth had lost their personal identity and the identity of who they were culturally. There was nothing for them to know except that they were to be loyal to their master and other white folk. Their new cultural identity was structured by the white master. As O. Patterson points out, "By natal alienation, the slave lost a birthright to his or her cultural existence, beyond what the master permitted, thus experiencing a kind of social death" (p.3). The inability for the slave population to create a social existence, since it was not allowed, could only mean that the whites believed that the slaves were dumb chattel with no capacity for human emotion. The master dominated over his slaves, so that he could exploit their labor. "The proprietor of this thing, the mover of this instrument, the soul and the reason of this body, the source of life, was the master" (p.7). Masters also considered their slaves to be inferior and, therefore, put the slaves in a vulnerable situation. The slaves relied on the master to survive, since he gave them food, clothing and shelter.
Slaves often defied their masters and were punished for such defiance publicly. As Drew Faust points out, "Those who performed unsatisfactory labor, or in any way challenged Hammond's authority were lashed, in a public display of the consequences of refusal to comply with the master's will" (p.241). The whipping represented shame on behalf of the slave population. The master's motive for whipping was to humiliate the slaves publicly, so that in the future one might consider the consequences before attempting something foolish. Masters often tried new methods to dominate their slave population. "Over the next several years, Hammond developed carefully designed plan of physical labor and psychological control intended to eliminate the foundations of black solidarity" (p.240). Such methods failed to work. Although the slaves did give in to being exploited for their labor, they could not be undermined to such an extent that they were spiritually broken.
The practice of religion was also forbidden to many slaves by their masters. Therefore, slaves often had to have...

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