Master-Slave Relations in the Antebellum South | The Historian's Apprentice
The relationship between slave masters and the slaves who were their lovers Set mostly on a resort in Ohio, where Southern slave owners. Masters and slaves in the Old South were never separate entities. in civil war in had its foundation in the ambivalences of the master-slave relation. The question, then, for our consideration is this: Whether the relation of Master and Slave, as it exists at the South, is opposed to the Right and Truth? Whether.
Bound by conflict and common purpose both, linked by powerful, insolubly contradictory emotions of love and hate, blacks in bondage and whites who held them in thralldom derived economic and political status, social identity, and cultural and moral imperatives from the struggle they waged against each other.
Relationships between Masters and Slaves: An Overview
Historians still violently disagree over the character of this conflict, and have not nearly begun to explain its trajectory with regard to time and place. Virtually all, however, agree that the national political conflict that eventuated in civil war in had its foundation in the ambivalences of the master-slave relation. Certainly there was nothing distinctly American—much less southern—about that bond before the antebellum era.
Slavery is a system of social organization and labor control found in virtually all cultures across the past two millennia. Though commonly employing ritual mechanisms of denigration or social death, there is nothing essentially racial about the peculiar institution as it existed in the American South or elsewhere.
Indeed, the forced importation and sale of Africans was resorted to only as a consequence of the failure of white indentured servitude and enslavement of Native Americans.
Initially, free, indentured, and enslaved workers of various races labored alongside each other in the seventeenth-century Chesapeake, and even more complex and overlapping social identities emerged in the decades before secession. In general, however, relations between masters and slaves in America between and fall into two broad political categories: The Warfare State That naked antagonism should govern the terms of bondage seemed perfectly obvious to both blacks and whites throughout the colonial era.
Southern planters were economic men-on-the-make, risking heavily in hopes of turning big profits fast. Treatment of slaves necessarily involved a complex cost-benefit analysis, shaped both by considerations of bondpeople as social capital and tokens of honor, and by pragmatic political calculations. Working hands hard in the fields and cutting costs to near subsistence level promised rich rewards.
But pushing slaves too hard might send them over the brink into violence and rebellion. Legal codes and daily practice reflected colonial planters' unrelenting search for the limits to their mastery, hemming in black self-activity, curbing access to the Gospel, and complicating private projects of emancipation. Again and again, overlords fell back on the tools of open violence to secure subservience, beating and mutilating slaves, raping and selling them, and murdering their human chattel in a dozen legal and horrifying fashions.
Slave conspiracies, uprisings, and acts of day-to-day resistance punctuated early American history, culminating in the Stono revolt in South Carolina in and the plot—real or imagined—to burn New York in Hopeful blacks confounded white Revolutionary ideology during the War of Independence by insisting that any struggle for freedom and sovereignty necessarily involved them as well as their owners.
Freedpeople from Crispus Attucks c. Conversely, tens of thousands of enslaved blacks took heed of Lord Dunmore's Proclamationwhich offered freedom to slaves who joined Dunmore's army although after his retreat, he resold them back into servitude. The Declaration of Independence itself, silent on slavery's place in the new republic it created, reflected the internal divisions and indecision within the planter class and its northern allies about how best to secure bondpeople to "good and faithful" labor.
Increasingly, worried masters described their human chattel as the "Jacobins of the country," bent on murderous self-liberation. They sought to defeat such schemes through rigorous laws, harsh treatment, and fierce reprisals. Like ruling classes everywhere, however, slaveholders fretted whether the path of safety was one of tighter discipline or of gradual amelioration.
When bondpeople in Haiti rose up in bloody—and successful—revolution in the s, the days of the American slaveholding republic looked numbered as well. As Thomas Jefferson put the problem, Americans held the "wolf" of slavery "by the ears," and seemed unable either to hold it for long or to let it go.
Republican fears of creeping tyranny and a seemingly inevitable race war culminated in a two-pronged scheme to restrict slavery politically and geographically, eradicating it across the course of generations. From tostate and federal lawmakers steadily barred slavery from Western territories and newly admitted states, simultaneously enacting provisions for gradual emancipation of bondpeople in the northern states.
Equally important, they blocked access to fresh importations of Africans by closing the transatlantic slave trade to America after though South Carolinian protests gained their state congressional dispensation to import slaves until Ex-slaves, such as Clara Davis, have recorded their memories of their time on the plantation with fondness. Though she was only young during her enslavement, Emmanuel provides useful details regarding childhood on the plantation.
Referring back to Kenneth M. Firstly, it must be highlighted that these women were recording their experiences many years after the abolition of slavery, and they would have only been young when it was in practice. Ex-slaves, following emancipation, were thrust into an unkind world without legal documentation, such as birth certificates, without any sense of identity and with very little by way of personal property or financial support.
It is highly possible that, in light of their experience of freedom, these women longed for the paternal bosom of their masters, and as such retold their stories with favourable accounts of masters Ross and Mosley.
This does not mean, however, that it is accurate to describe these masters as paternal, but that in some way the confines of servitude represented a familiar and safe father figure for these women. Anthony Ross, who appears to be the slaveholder of a very large plantation, appears to acknowledge this fact, protecting and nurturing young slaves in order to increase their yield later in life.
Contrasting to the accounts of Davis, Edwards and Emmanuel, Sallie Crane tells a more familiar story in her account of her time in slavery.BDSM: A Master & Slave Relationship I The Feed
To conclude, the reality of master-slave relationships in the antebellum South, the memory of those relationships and the scholarship surrounding this area of contention are a rich and fascinating point in African American history.
Certainly, there existed cruel masters or those who were firmly and solely interested in the profitable investment that was slave ownership, it is interesting to note that some ex-slaves looked back on their time on the plantation with a sense of nostalgia. Whilst these examples of slave memories evidently assign a notion of fatherhood to their masters, it is yet not accurate to describe these master-slave relations as paternal for several reasons; this being that, primarily, emotion in slave memory was commonly wrongly placed due to their circumstances post-abolition.
Instead, we should understand that whilst masters cared for their slaves, it is the motivation behind this care that is key to separating paternalism from capitalist sensibilities.
The Relation of Master and Slave
Philosophy and American Slavery, eds. What adjustments did they make or refuse to make?
What role did reflection and religious faith have in their adjustments? What role did other slaves' advice and experience have in their adjustments? What were the consequences? What is the difference between adjustment and resistance? Where do they overlap? What aspects of slavery do these writers emphasize to rebut the view that slavery was beneficial to the enslaved and that most slaveowners were humane? Why does Frederick Douglass conclude that his growing awareness of slavery as a child, while deeply painful, was "knowledge quite worth possessing"?
What aspect of the slave's awareness does Douglass call "a constant menace to slavery"?
In what situations did slaves choose to submit to the master's authority without resistance? When did they choose not to submit? See also Topic 7: What were the consequences of resistance or submission?