preview

Racial Issues Throughout The Literature Of Colonial America

Decent Essays
Racial issues today are rooted in the literature of colonial America. Slaveholders sought to drive a wedge between the free white class and enslaved blacks. The immorality of slavery was at odds with the economic power of free labor that sustained the colonies’ increasing agricultural production. In an attempt to stifle social concern over slavery, slaveholders differentiated blacks and whites to project blacks as inferior. Language was an effective medium for diminishing the humanity of enslaved Africans. The word choice of Some Memoirs of the Life of Job by Thomas Bluett contributed to racial formation in colonial America by subtly suppressing the moral argument against slavery and encouraging the division between whites and blacks. Job was the son of an African King. Despite his literacy in Arabic and advance education, the language barrier prevented him from communicating with the English-speaking Captain of a ship bound for the Middle Passage. Job was mistakenly taken to Maryland as a slave, where his upbringing differentiated him from the other slaves, just as a Prince in England would have differed in many ways from the common people. According to Bluett, Job was an “African Gentleman,” but he describes another slave as an “old Negroe man” (p.10). This distinction introduces the theme that human life varies in value, and therefore a typical laboring slave was less deserving of freedom based on the “Principle of Humanity” (p. 10). Because Job was highly educated and
Get Access