Slave Experience

1291 Words6 Pages
Examination Of The Slave Experience

Examination of the Slave Experience Most African Americans of the early to mid-nineteenth century experienced slavery on plantations similar to the experiences described by Frederick Douglass; the majority of slaves lived on units owned by planters who had twenty or more slaves. The planters and the white masters of these agrarian communities sought to ensure their personal safety and the profitability of their enterprises by using all the tactics-physical and psychological-at their command to make slaves obedient. Even Christianity was manipulated in a way that masters communicated to their slaves that God had commanded them to obey their masters. Hence, by word and deed whites tried to convince
…show more content…
For Frederick Douglass and all other slaves, the singing of songs and religion were more of an affirmation of the joy in life rather than a rejection of worldly pleasures and temptations. They spoke out against the perils of bondage and asserted their right to be free. Despite the success of African Americans to develop a subculture, which afforded them an escape from their hardcore reality, pain and struggle persisted. There are many similarities, which can be drawn from the experiences of slavery as described by Frederick Douglass and the analogy to a Nazi prison camp included in the Stanley Elkins Thesis. Elkins asserted that slavery in the United States was similar to the conditions of a Nazi concentration camp because both exerted total physical and psychological control over its subordinates. In both cases, the subordinates were not allowed any personal freedoms, which included education, leisure, or any other personal allowance. Thomas Auld, the master of Frederick Douglass in Baltimore, said A nigger should know nothing but to obey his master-to do as he is told to do. (pg. 57) He was referring to the wrongfulness of his wife 's attempt to educate Frederick Douglass. Implicitly, this was the view held by most whites toward African Americans. Consequently, other adjectives such as: lazy, irresponsible, childlike, and simple-minded, were used by whites to describe the African American
Get Access