Essay American Slavery

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American Slavery 1619-1877

Book Report

History 1050



“American Slavery, 1619-1877” by Peter Kolchin gives an overview of the practice of slavery in America between 1619 and 1877. From the origins of slavery in the colonial period to the road to its abolition, the book explores the characteristics of slave culture as well as the racial mind-sets and development of the old South’s social structures.
This paper is divided in two sections. The first section observes the author’s vivid presentation of the slave-master psyche and relationship from the 17th to 19th century America. The second section examines the author’s choice of method in narration - how, apart from quoting statistics,
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Kolchin narrates tales of hardship and provides a condemning opinion of slavery. At the same time, however, he focuses on the facts of daily living of slaves in America.
Furthermore, Kolchin delves deeply into the oddly fascinating dynamics of the slave-master relationship, which allows incidents such as a master whipping his slave for working sluggishly and then the evening of the same day, gathering all of the slaves for a bible reading session. A person who provides basic needs for others but forces them to provide him free labor in return is evaluated repeatedly in the book with interesting outcomes. However, the author likewise presents a slave owner who had minimal impact on slaves’ lives outside of the workday, one who allowed the slaves to have social and religious celebrations of their own choosing, and viewed the slaves as not just property, but humans.
The irony of this is that slave owners saw no wrong in what they were doing, regardless of how they treated their respective slaves. Slavery, as an institution, was from the perspective of the slave owners, justified. Kolchin describes that, in response, slaves were overtly resistive to their predicament at times, while others provided less obvious resistance in the form of slow work, feigning illness, and even sabotage. In addition, Kolchin gives the readers the catalysts for the events in the history of slavery. Economic,

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