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Judging slavery through history Information from Peter Kolchin Summer 2011
Historiography n n The writing of history – How does history change? Who writes history? Why write history? What is going on in society while we write history? Why does that matter?
Slavery and historiography n n Relationship between slaves and masters has changed depending on when and who was telling the history. 1 st half of 20 th Century – U. B Phillips – slaves as objects “American Negro Slavery” – 1914 – portrayed slaves as docile, ignorant, inferior, but kindly people managed by well-meaning whites. n What sources do YOU think historians used to draw these conclusions? n
Stanley Elkins – 1950 s and 60 s n n Elkins not a “racist” in the same way that Phillips was. . Described slavery systems as dehumanizing. Turned victims into docile creatures with NO AGENCY
Civil Rights Movement through 70 s and 80 s n n Where do you think the emphasis was on research? What kind of materials? Focus on agency and slave community – rather than on treatment and management.
Balanced approach? n n The historian struggles to create a balance – to recognize that slavery was a system of oppression – but also recognize that slaves had a life of their own. Some of the areas of controversy: Size/shape of family – n Marriage n Stability of family life n
Quick Processing n Examine your texts at your table. . Which historian goes with what period? Why?
GLOBALIZATION? n n n How is the Middle Passage an example of globalization? How did the Middle Passage “flatten” the world? Do you see anything in the world today that could be analogous to the Middle Passage?
SLAVERY disposable peole. ppt
Document Based exercise
“Peculiar” Institution n n American Slavery was not really strange or unique – Forced labor was the way of the world – was pervasive. Russia Africa Americas
Slavery in America – a comparison n n Caribbean had a much larger percentage of population as slave population. . ¼ million slaves lived on 50+ slave plantations. 75% of all slaves living with 50 or more slaves Russia – 80% of population slave Jamaica – 90% of the population US – not that large
Interaction of slaves in U. S n n n American slaves tended to live in smaller numbers on farms/plantations. More interaction with masters Narrative – p. 18
Growth of Slave Population n n 1808 -1860 – Tripled Slave population. In other countries, once slave trade abolished, slavery leveled off and declined. Brazil – 1850 s importation finished. . By 1880 slavery abolished. U. S – What ends slavery for us?
FREDERICK DOUGLASS n n Essential Questions 1. Was Douglass’ experience “typical” of slavery? 2. What themes does Douglass share with his readers connect across all types of slavery? 3. How can you read Douglass’ narrative as both a story and as a skilled argument?
Who was Douglass?
Which one wasn’t he? n n n Autobiographer Slave Abolitionist Self-educated lawyer Agitator Fugitive Orator International celebrity Constitutional theorist Military leader educator hero caulker Republican Diplomat to Haiti
Who was Douglass? n n First owner was Aaron Anthony – Southern version of self-made man; he was an orphaned son of an illiterate tenant farmer. Anthony had worked for Edward Lloyd V – but by the time Douglass was born, he had become part of the master class. Douglass says Lloyd had 1000 slaves. . exaggeration
Parents? n n n His full name – Frederick Augustus Washington Bailey – What is interesting about his two middle names? Mother -- Harriet Bailey – a literate woman who worked as a field hand. Father – whispers it could have been Anthony himself.
Privileged slave? Is there such a thing? n First job: “Domestic” – Often patterns to slavery – fit the life cycle. Children – sometimes “idyllic” stage – not aware of slavery. n 8 -9 years old – start to work in “Big house” n Adult males – in field usually (on a plantation) n Some Women and children – Big House n Older slaves – lighter tasks n Slave life expectancy – If you lived beyond 5 years, you could live to 50. . . In other places, slaves reached an average of 30. n
Douglass’ early years – how do they compare? n n n Douglass worked around the Big House and its gardens and tables. One of the most coveted positions in plantation hierarchy (Stauffer 30). Most children – slave children short for age – maybe not fed well. . Caught up in teen years but not as much as white counterparts. Douglass – rather tall – nearly 6 ft.
After Big House. . Where did Douglass go? n n n Aaron Anthony rather “kind” to Douglass. . “patting me on the head, speaking to me in soft caressing tones, and calling me his ‘little Indian boy. ” After Anthony died, Frederick became property of his daughter Lucretia. She died in 1827. . So owned by Lucretia’s husband, Thomas Auld. Were slaves sad when owners died? Why?
n n Thomas Auld “lent” Douglass out to his brother – Hugh Auld and Hugh’s wife, Sophia in Baltimore. Douglass spent 7 years with the Aulds in Baltimore. Thomas and Hugh fought. . And Thomas wanted his slave back. . .
n Thomas Auld “A thin-lipped, white-haired forty-year-old whose ‘leading characteristics, ’ according to Frederick, were ‘intense selfishness’ and sanctimoniousness. Each morning Auld prayed that God would bless his home with bounty and basket; and then he starved Frederick while food rotted in the meat house” (Stauffer 31).
Why was Douglass so insolent? n n n City slave? Reading? Taste of freedom?
Introducing Edward Covey: The slave breaker n n n Legendary as “nigger breaker” (Stauffer 32) “cunning of the serpent” and the craftiness of the fox. Auld received over $100 in annual rent – close to $75, 000 in today’s money.
Life under Covey n n n Fairly brutal Douglass withdraws into himself “Mr. Covey succeeded in breaking me. I was broken I body, soul and spirit” (33) Became a “drinker” – tradition for masters to give their field hands whiskey on Saturday night and during Christmas week of vacation. Solace in drink and walking near Chesapeake and watching ships. . Gave up drink later – became a teetotaler
Life under Covey continued n n n Went to Auld and warned him that Covey was trying to hurt Douglass. . . Auld said. . Nonsense -- story of root/etc – leave that to Frankie Now lent to William Freeland. “Give a slave a bad master, and he aspires to a good master; give him a good master, and he wishes to become his own master. Such is human nature (41). – tried to run away – got caught. . Put in jail. . Thomas Auld threatens to sell him to Alabama (Douglass worth about 75, 000 in today’s money. . ) but actually gives him back to his brother in Baltimore. . .
Back to Auld’s in Baltimore n n Apprentice caulker Hired out as skilled labor – brought wages back to Hugh Auld 1838 (18 year old) Douglass took the B&O railroad to freedom --
n n n http: //memory. loc. gov/ammem/snhtml/sn voices 07. html (religion) http: //memory. loc. gov/ammem/snhtml/sn voices 01. html (education) http: //memory. loc. gov/ammem/snhtml/sn voices 02. html (trading)