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Upon These Shores: Themes in the African American Experience, 1600 to the Present

Posted by sierralapoint on October 5, 2009

One section of Upon These Shores: Themes in the African American Experience, 1600 to the Present is by Peter Wood, called “In Search of Freedom: Slave Life in the Antebellum South.”

This essay shocked me.  I mean, I knew that slave owners were ruthless and cold. I knew they were merciless in terms of punishment and even in definition of crime.  They clearly had socially justified their behavior to the point of complete solipsism.  Still, the extent to which these people were objectified is disgusting. As if advertisements and racial cartoons weren’t enough, literal auction blocks and runaway adds listing the iron fetters used for containment?  That’s ridiculous.

Also, I especially like the excerpt from Advice to Masters, 1837, under the headline “Morality,” it says: “I particularly enjoin upon my slaves, the observance of their marriage contracts.  In no instance to I suffer any of them to violate these ties — except where I would consider myself justified in doing so.  Independently of the excellence of such an institution itself, it has the additional advantage of keeping your negros at home…”  There are just so many things wrong with this statement; it exemplifies the half-hearted double standard implementation that is the cornerstone of slavery in America.  Nice.


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