Women in Slavery Essay

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When somebody reflects the hardships of slavery, they typically think solely of the treatment towards African Americans. What most people are not aware of is how women were treated, whether they were of color or not. In Harriet Jacobs book, Incidents in the Life of a Slave Girl, she explains “Slavery is terrible for men; but it is far more terrible for women. Superadded to the burden common to all, they have wrongs, and sufferings, and mortifications peculiarly their own.” The cruel treatment towards female slaves and the struggles held by Southern women during the Civil war are disregarded by the majority of people today, even though it is a significant part of American history and still affects society. Slaveholders would often rape and impregnate their slave women, and then never let the women care for their mixed children. Actions like this contribute to prostitution today, yet people still do not consider prostitution a form of slavery. These truths are tangible today due to African American authors Susie King Taylor and Kate Stone. Thankfully, white abolitionist women such as Ida B. Wells and Mary Chesnut were around to stand up for slaves and women.
Though life was incredibly tragic for the majority of colored women, there are a few who were fortunate enough to get an education, gain freedom, or be born a free black. Unfortunately, those people are the only African Americans who had the ability to record their lives through writing, for others were unable to do so because of their illiteracy. Susie King Taylor’s story is a perfect example of this. In her book, A Black Woman’s Civil War Memoirs, she narrates her life being born into slavery and eventually gaining freedom. She was born in 1848 on an island off the coast of Georgia, but she moved in with her grandmother at age seven. Her grandmother encouraged Taylor to attend an underground school for colored people. She learned to read and write with the help of school and lessons from white children nearby. At age fourteen, she escaped by Yankee ship and ended up on St. Simon’s Island. Within the first week of being on the island, Taylor was asked to take charge in teaching a school for African American children on the island. She gladly accepted and proceeded to teach about 40 children as well as some adults that could only attend at night. Around the same time that she relocates to Beaufort, South Carolina, Taylor married Sergeant Edward King. She traveled with him and served primarily as a laundress, but also worked as a cook, teacher, and nurse. Most women would have been paid for these services, but because she was colored, she worked “willingly for four year and three months without receiving a dollar” (p 16,21). The war finally ended, and Taylor settled in Savannah, Georgia, with her husband, but he was killed just before the birth of their son. Her husband’s death represents a common misfortune for women during this time. Many women, both black and white, lost...

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