Southern Slaves vs Northern Laborers Essay

Published: 2020-04-22 15:24:05
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Category: Slavery

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A shoemaker in Massachusetts once said, We are worse treated than the slaves of the south. The free-laborers were not forced to America in ships, stripped of their culture, their language, and their freedom. The free-laborers were not enslaved. I do not agree with the shoemakers statement, but rather believe the Southern slaves were treated worse than Northern laborers. It may have been true that laborers in the North had harsh working conditions, but they did however, have their freedom. The laborers were not treated as if they were property.

Slaves were treated more as pets than people, often times abused and ordered to perform hard labor. The slaves had no form freedom whatsoever. Every aspect of their lives was controlled by their owner, what times they eat, sleep, or work. Their lives consisted of routine, doing the same thing every day, especially slaves working at cotton factories. It is unreasonable that a man with freedom can argue that he is worse treated than a man without freedom. Slaves were forced into slavery and often had brutal punishments if they made mistakes.

If slaves were treated so much better why, is it that free laborers did not flee to the south so that they could become slaves. Slaves were treated a lot worse, considering that they were treated as property, took care of poorly, and had no freedom. Slaves were considered property, and they were property because they were black. Their status as property was enforced by violence. Enslaved African Americans could never forget their status as property, no matter how well their owners treated them. Although, some may say masters and slaves did not always hated each other.

Human beings who live and work together are bound to form relationships of some kind, and some masters and slaves genuinely cared for each other. But the caring was tempered and limited by the power difference between slaves and owners. In The Slave Ship: A Human History, Marcus Rediker says Within the narrow confines of slavery, human relationships ran the gamut from compassionate to contemptuous. But the masters and slaves never approached equality (Rediker, 2007) . Slaves could have received caring or condescending owners.

Northern laborers did not even have owners. The diets of enslaved people were insufficient or barely sufficient to meet the demands of their heavy workload. Their clothing and bedding were minimal as well. In 1860, families owning more than fifty slaves numbered less than 10,000; those owning more than a hundred numbered less than 3,000 in the whole South. The typical Southern slave owner possessed one or two slaves, and the typical white Southern male artisan owned none. Slaves in the lower South were often ill housed, ill fed, and ill cared for.

It was more profitable to keep them at work on cotton than allow them time to build a decent shelter. It was more profitable to plant every inch of land in cotton than to allot space for homes. In the lower South the majority of slaves lived and worked on cotton plantations. Most of these plantations had fifty or fewer slaves, although the largest plantations have several hundred. Life on the Deep South plantations was also characterized by horrible master-slave relationships. Owners were often absent, and overseers were paid by how much cotton they produced, not by the condition of the slaves they supervised.

An article on Antebellum slavery states On lower South plantations, like those of the upper South, both men and women slaves were expected to toil in the fields from first light to full dark(Jacobs, 2000). Because men were stronger and able to work harder, the plantations often had a much larger number of male slaves than female. This made the possibility of marriage small for the slave men. In the cotton and sugar South, slaves were usually worked in gangs supervised by black drivers and white overseers with whips.

The pace for plowing, hoeing, weeding, or picking was set by the overseers, and if a worker fell behind, he or she felt the sting of a lash. Slaves had no freedom and were constantly being ordered to do things. If slaves tried to escape they would be brought back to their master to get beat, whipped or even killed. To enforce the slave codes, authorities established slave patrols. These were usually locally organized bands of young white men, both slave owners and small farmers, who rode about at night checking that slaves were securely in their quarters.

Although some planters felt that the slave patrolmen abused slaves who had been given permission to travel, the slave patrols nevertheless reinforced the sense of white solidarity between slave owners and those who owned none. They shared a desire to keep the nonwhite population in check. Jacobs states, These antebellum slave patrols are seen by many historians as antecedents of the Ku Klux Klan, which similarly tried to discipline the freed blacks. The Klan helped reinforce white solidarity in a time when the class lines between exslave owners and white yeomen were collapsing because of slaverys end (Jacobs, 2000).

At the top of the southern social hierarchy were plantation owners. After were white yeoman farmers, followed by black freeman, and naturally slaves were at the very bottom. The free laborers werent treated wonderfully but when was the last time you heard of a free laborer stripped naked and put on display at fairs and auctioned like an animal. The slaves were treated a lot worse than free laborers. The laborers were not put in the same situations as the slaves. They were not bought and sold, separated from their families, or be forced to submit to sexual advances by their owners.

The laborers could go wherever they wanted without being under the threat of being lynched if they happen to accidentally look at a young white woman. The laborers would not trade their freedom for a hot meal and a warm and dry place to sleep. The heat and humidity of the South created health problems for slaves. Unsanitary conditions, inadequate nutrition and unrelenting hard labor made slaves highly susceptible to disease. Slaves were torn apart from their families, marched around in handcuffs and chains, and even branded (Good, 2011).

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