A Soul in Chains 16.08.10

Living and working conditions of slaves

– Overseers often could be as brutal as they wanted -> if the slaves didn’t do what the overseers wanted e.g. coming to the field by the drivers horn they were whipped out and often even killed
– If a slave was convicted of any misdemeanour, became unmanageable or evinced a determination to run away he was brought to a slave trader (warning for the other slaves)
– the slaves only had eight pounds of pork or its equivalent in fish and one bushel of corn as a meal per month
– Adults had clothes which could have coasted not more than seven dollars, children had no clothes, except two two coarse linen shirts per year because they didn’t work
– No beds, but coarse blankets
– Many of the slaves sleeping hours were consumed in preparing for the field the coming day
– It depended on the owner and the overseers how a slave was treated

Relationship between literacy and slavery

a) Why is it forbidden to teach slaves to read?

– Mr. Auld: unlawful, unsafe, a black should know nothing but to obey his master -> learning would spoil that, reading would unfit a slave, he would become unmanageable and of no value of his master

b) The positive and negative effects of literacy on a slave

-Easier for the slave to escape, because with knowledge about literacy the salve would have some paragons
– After a conversation between the slave-owner and the slave a voluntary emancipation of the slave on the part of the slave-owner is possible

– the slaves began to hate their owners, they began to realize that their masters stole their home just for being successful -> literature gave the slaves a new view of their miserable conditions, but still they saw no way to get out of their situation

c) Relationship between literacy and freedom

– The slave could discuss with his owner, so that the voluntary emancipation of the slave on the part of the master could take place
– The slave has a view of his miserable conditions and begins to try to escape from them
– Reading would unfit a slave to be a slave, with learning to read he pushes himself on the same level as his master

Literatur und Sklaverei in Amerika (Englisch)
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