Peculair Institution, The : Slavery in the Ante-Bellum South

Kenneth M. Stampp

BACKGROUND

This is a long and boring book which looks at slavery (the Peculiar Institution) in the Ante-Bellum (Latin for Pre-War) South. This guy is some history teacher from Berkley who wrote this in 1954 so he uses the word Negro to describe black people. He looks at the south and slavery….why it came about…and how it was operated. He does this in a lot of detail.

 

 

CHAPTER BY CHAPTER

Chapter 1 (The Setting)

Section 1

  • The author sets the scene of his book. He talks about how to understand the South and all the bad things that has happened to it in its history, you have to start with slavery, not with the civil war and the reconstruction. (pg. 3)
  • The author then talks about what people say caused Slavery in the South. He isn't really stating his opinion here…he is addressing what other people have said.
  • Climate is the first reason the author looks at. He says that the South is a natural for an agricultural economy, and that is why some people say slavery came about. But, he says that in several different times and places in the world has there been a similar place like the South and not all have made slavery an institution.
  • Then the author looks at the idea that the plantation lifestyle demanded slaves (pg 5). But, he says that plantations were around before slavery and were around after it was abolished.
  • The author says Slavery was a deliberate choice of several options that Southerners picked. He says "Southerners did not create the slave system all at once in 1619; rather, they built it little by little, step by step, choice by choice, over a period of many years; and all the while most of them were more or less blind to the ultimate consequences of the choices they were making." (pg 6)
  • He then calls the Slave system a complete failure because of its social consequences…and the slave became the symbol in which the South was judged.

Section 2

  • This section the author takes a look at some common myths and shows how false they are.
  • Myth #1: Black people were needed because White men couldn't work in the hot climate of the south. (pg 7) This is not true because white men had been working successfully in the climate before black slaves arrived.
  • Myth #2: Black people are genetically built for slavery. (pg 8) There personalities are simple and inferior to white people.
  • Myth #3: Africans were barbarians who needed to be enslaved for their own good to learn how to adapt to the western world. (pg 11). This is such BS because Africans were never taught how to live in America…they were just taught how to be slaves. Also, African culture was primitive but had all the elements of an organized society. If it hadn't been for the different colour of skin, within a generation or two, things would have been ok. (bottom pg 13).
  • The author says blacks and whites are the pretty much the same and express themselves the same way and both have hopes and dreams.

Section 3

  • This section is about how Southerners defended themselves by saying they never invented slavery.
  • Slavery dates back to Ancient Egypt..and great societies like the Romans and Greeks were based on slavery. (pg 15)
  • In the Middle Ages, serfs were basically slaves (pg 15)
  • Even in the colonies, indentured servants traded their freedom to pay for passage to America…although they eventually gained their freedom (pg 16)
  • Also, a lot had to do with religious beliefs with regards to the primitive Africans. Christians and Moslems both considered each other infidels so they would make their prisoners of war into slaves. Africans were neither Moslem or Christian so they suffered at the hands of both. Plus, Africa already had slavery amongst the native people…so it when Europeans came on to the scene…they found willing slave traders. (pg 17)
  • The Spanish and Portuguese fed their South American colonies with blacks after the local Indians they had enslaved started to die off. All the major European countries had colonies in the Caribbean and they all imported slaves.
  • The first cargo of slaves were brought to Virginia in 1619 by the Dutch (pg 18) and the sale of the blacks were sanctioned by John Rolfe. The other colonies bought slaves too.
  • But, as the 1800's rolled in, the rest of the world was getting rid of slavery, but the South was isolating themselves. (pg 19).
  • By 1860, the Southerners had this "Peculiar Institution" which they didn't invent, but had inherited. (pg 20)

Section 4

  • At first, the black slaves were similar to white servants. They worked together and were sometimes freed after a certain period. The whites and blacks hung out after work and often had kids.
  • It wasn't until 1660 that laws were put into place to make blacks into a group of people with little or no rights. (pg 22). Blacks were now slaves for life, and the child inherited the same condition as his mother. Then the laws came into place that really identified blacks as property and interracial marriages were outlawed.
  • Then the author talks about how Indians weren't really made into slaves like blacks because they were more able to escape since they knew the land..and also, the people wanted to stay on good terms with them..and found them more useful that way.
  • Then the author talks about how many slaves their were. The population was growing. Importing slaves became illegal most places after the independence of America was won…or within about 20-30 years after. By 1810, the southern slave population was over 1 million (pg 25).
  • Just because importing slaves became illegal, did not mean slavery was coming to an end. Many new states were opened as slave states. By 1845, 15 states were slave states.

Section 5

  • The author talks about how by 1830, the institution of slavery was set and rigid in the South and was going to be defended.
  • Slaves were not owned by every southerner. Actually, very few actually owned slaves. Most southerners were small time farmers who worked the land on their own with their family.
  • In 1860, there were 385,000 slave owners among 1,516,000 free families. (Pg 30).
  • Different States had different proportions of families who owned slaves also. South Carolina and Mississippi: 50% of families owned slaves. Georgia: 2/5. Alabama, N. Carolina, Kentucky, Tennessee, and Texas: 1/4. Arkansas: 1/5. Maryland & Missouri: 1/8. Delaware: 1/30. (pg 30)
  • 88% of slave owners owned less than 20 slaves. 72% less than 10. 50% held less than 5 slaves. So, basically slaves were mainly concentrated to the class of large planters…not small farming families. (pg 30)
  • There were more big plantations of slaves in the deep south than the upper south.
  • The author makes a good point at the end here: About 1/4 of Southerners owned slaves and it was good for them because they had free labour. But, why did the other 3/4 of non-slave owners defend the institution of slavery? Because it controlled the social and economic competition of blacks…i.e. They wouldn't be able to rise up and be successful. Also, it made whites feel like they belonged to an superior caste..and a chance to move up to the upper class…i.e. by owning slaves.(pg 32-33)

Chapter 2 (From day clean to First Dark)

Section 1

  • This chapter is all about the details of slavery as a system of labour.
  • Small farms with slaves usually had the master and his kids working along side the slaves.
  • The more slaves a farm had, the more likely the master spent more time organizing the work force.
  • Big places usually had some guy called an overseer running the slaves…not the master.
  • Salves did everything from field work to taking care of cooking, cleaning, and their own chores.
  • Overseers were usually not the most talented people because there wasn't a whole lot of money or social prestige in the job. Most masters went through many overseers.
  • The overseers for big places usually had what were called drivers…trusted slaves who were worked under the overseer to make sure everything went smoothly.
  • So, things got much more complex the bigger a farm was.

Section 2

  • This section is all about how at different times of the year salves did different jobs. Slaves just didn't pick cotton…they dug ditches, fixed fences, and took care of animals.
  • A lot of farms focused on just one "cash crop" but many tried to do a lot of different things.

Section 3

  • There were two basic forms of working large amounts of slaves: The task system and the gang system (pg 54)
  • The gang system (most common) was where slaves were split into gangs and a driver made them work all day.
  • Under the task system, each slave was given a task each day and when they were done, they could go home for the day. The driver just made sure the work was done better.
  • A lot of planters used both systems depending on the job.
  • Not all salves could be used as field hands all the time. Their were children, mothers, and old people. They were used part of the time or often put to do other jobs like cooking and weaving.
  • Really rich planters had their whole household run by many slaves who did everything…cooking, cleaning, coachmen, butlers, nannys..etc.
  • Some slaves became skilled in some trade like carpentry or black smithing.
  • It's ironic because owners would talk about how much better their slaves were at skilled tasks than the white people they would hire…then they would go off on how stupid black people were and how they could never do anything right (pg 59)

Section 4

  • A lot of slaves started being used in factories and for building railroads. Slaves were able to do the skilled jobs very well.

Section 5

  • The author talks about how every year around January, most places had a "hiring day" where people would sell the services of their slaves…the ones they didn't need to get extra money.
  • Some slaves were allowed to hire out their own time and pay their master a certain wage.

Section 6

  • The author talks about how the treatment of slaves were different depending on where they were.
  • On the whole, most slaves were overworked. Overseers were under pressure to make $$ for their boss, so they worked slaves very hard.
  • Also, the hired slaves were treated rough. If someone hired a slave for a year, they would work them as hard as they could because they didn't own the slave and didn't care.

Chapter 3 (A troublesome property)

Section 1

  • The author talks about whether the southern slave was contented in a life of bondage or did he desire freedom.
  • Many slave owners said they understood their slaves and they were fine…but some said their slaves just told them what they wanted to hear and would lie about anything.
  • The author talks about how there aren't really many reliable records on how slaves felt about their situation.
  • He quotes Frederick Douglass about how if you beat and cuff your slave…he will follow your orders, but clothe him and look after him and he will desire freedom. Give him a bad master and he will aspire to a good master…give him a good master…and he will aspire to be his own master. (pg 89)
  • Slaves wanted to be free, they just didn't act like because they didn't see it as a practical option (pg 91)

Section 2

  • Sometimes, slaves turned down freedom and embraced slavery. The author looks at why this happened.
  • A lot of times, freed slaves were forced to leave the state because it didn't help having free black people walking around making other slaves want to be free.
  • Also, people didn't like blacks in the South or in the North in most places…and they still didn't have any rights….so they didn't have a whole lot of opportunity. So, instead of being free but poor and hungry…sometimes slaves would choose to stay as slaves so they would be provided for. (pg 93)
  • But, the author says, proslavery writers often exaggerated how often slaves turned down freedom. Most slaves when presented with freedom would take it at whatever the cost.

Section 3

  • This section is about how slaves were not always good workers. They often did their job badly…sometimes to piss off their master but a lot of times because they just didn't care.
  • Ignorance was a virtue for most slaves. Masters complained about smart slaves being trouble but also complained about the stupid ones. On the whole, Masters preferred ignorant slaves so slaves would often act that way to keep the peace and have an excuse when they don't do their work. (pg 99)
  • Then the author talks about how slaves would do whatever they could to work less. They didn't work hard if they could avoid it…this is no surprise. Their was no incentive to work hard…and if a master pushed a slave too hard, they often would find the slave working even worse than before.
  • Slaves would often act stupid and just break things and not do anything right. This doctor, Samuel Cartwright, called it a disease: Dysaethesia Æthiopica which basically says black people are so stupid they can't help it. But, most slave owners thought it was more likely deviousness. (pg 102)
  • So, basically what the author is getting at is although all this labour was cheap and slaves…the work wasn't always very good. Masters could not expect a slave to be a diligent worker and had to waste a lot of time watching and forcing work.

Section 4

  • This Doctor Cartwright also said there was another disease called Drapetomania. This is the disease that made black people run away. (pg 109) Obviously this doctor was very smart. And they called blacks ignorant back then. They are slaves…who wouldn't run away?
  • Although this "disease" is crap, the problem was real. Slaves tried to run away all the time.
  • Some runaway attempts were more like strikes against poor treatment or too much work.
  • The attempts to escape the south were most dangerous.
  • Slaves would rarely ever rat on each other.

Section 5

  • This section deals with crimes committed by slaves. Most of the time it was theft. Slaves stole all the time from their owners when they could. It wasn't considered wrong by the slave code. (pg 125)
  • There was a difference between stealing and taking according to the salve code. Taking something where a slave would take something from the master and use it. Stealing was taking something from another slave. (pg 127)
  • Arson was the next big crime. It was a common way to get back at a master.
  • The next crime was hurting yourself to avoid work. Some slaves even went as far as cutting their hands or fingers off. (pg 128)
  • After that there was suicide.
  • Many slaves would fight to avoid being captured if they ran away or if they were gong to severely punished.

Section 6

  • This section is about Nat Turner and his slave rebellion (1831). Nat Turner was a Baptist and very humble. Then he decided it was his duty to deliver his people from bondage. He and his followers killed the family that owned them and then went on a two day rampage getting more slaves and killing about 60 white people.
  • They were massacred by a large group of whites and many other slaves were killed and also some sent to trial and then killed. A lot of these slaves weren't part of the rebellion, they had just shown sympathy.
  • Nat Turner was not captured until 2 months later and then was hung.
  • Nat Turner and his rebellion really scared people in the south. They were afraid of more uprisings.
  • Slaves weren't too big on trying to rebel like that all the time because they knew they would be killed.
  • The author sums up that slavery and it's survival cannot be due to the contentment of blacks as slaves. They were a lot of trouble and wanted freedom, but the masters were able to control the situation enough to make money.

Chapter 4 (To make them stand in fear)

Section 1

  • Chapter 4 is all about how the slave owners controlled their slaves.
  • The government gave slave owners complete control over their slaves as long as they didn’t' murder and maim them…although you know that white people would always get the benefit of the doubt.
  • The author talks about how different slaves reacted differently to different masters.

Section 2

  • The author talks about how smart masters knew that slaves weren't happy being slaves, and that they had to be broken. Every master had an idea of the ideal slave.
  • The author then gives the steps on how it was believed to make an ideal slave.
  • Step 1: Strict discipline.
  • Step 2: Make the slave feel inferior because he or she is black.
  • Step 3: Make them feel in awe of the power of the master.
  • Step 4: Make some slaves interested in the work they are doing. Incentives to do well…and these slaves would be models for others.
  • Step 5: Make the black people dependent. That's why letting slaves learn skills or work in factories was often frowned upon.

Section 3

  • This section the author talks about how the slave owners had to watch the slaves constantly because they could not be trusted.
  • There was a kind of accepted guideline for day to day operations. (pg 149)
  • 1: An overseer must never be absent from the estate without his employers consent and he must always be checking on the slaves.
  • 2: A slave shouldn't be out of his cabin at night.
  • 3: A slave was not supposed to leave the estate without a proper pass.
  • 4: Don't let your slaves work with white men or free black people because they will see the good side of freedom.
  • 5: Don't let slaves marry free blacks.
  • 6: Don't let the slave sell anything without a permit and don't let him have whiskey in his cabin or fight.
  • Many owners would get a class of elite slaves…the ones they treated best to run things.

Section 4

  • This section is all about religion and slaves.
  • Early on in the 17th century, people said not to baptize Africans because if they were baptized, then it could lead to freedom.
  • Then the governments of the south made it so it didn't matter what religion a black person was, they would still be a slave.
  • Some owners were still worried about letting slaves practice religion.
  • Other owners used religion to control their slaves more. They would preach themselves or have someone do it and only preach parts of the bible that could be used to manipulate slaves.

Section 5

  • This section is about slave owners who believed it was good to treat their slaves well. They would give them Christmas gifts and allow them to grow their own food and sell it.
  • Some owners even shared their profits with slaves.

Section 6

  • Most slave owners found that they had to use force to make their slaves keep working.
  • This section talks about all the different kinds of punishment an owner would give slaves.
  • Some owners would do mean stuff, others would jail slaves, and some would use the public stocks.
  • The whip was the most common form of punishment though.

Section 7

  • This section is about brutality done to slaves.
  • Since any white person could own a slave, a lot of sick people got their hands on them and would be brutal. A lot of owners would not tolerate brutality in word, but they had an overseer who ran their estate and the overseer didn't care usually about being brutal.
  • The owner just wanted his money and because the workers were slaves, force was needed to make them work.
  • Most slaves who were accused of serious crimes like murder and rape were dealt with by a mob who would hang them or burn them.

Chapter 5 (Chattels Personal)

Section 1

  • This section talks about how Alabama's legal code in 1852 had two clauses dealing with slaves. The first was that a slave was property of his master and must be obedient. The second was a slave was a person and must be fed, clothed, and cared for in old age and sickness. (193)
  • These two clauses were hard to enforce because one clause makes a slave a thing and the other a person, but usually the thing would come first.

Section 2

  • Under the law in the South, all black people were slaves unless they could prove they were free. Also, the child of a slave father and a free white mother was free. The child of a free white father and a black or mulatto slave mother was a slave. So, there were white people who looked totally white who were slaves because they had some black blood that was considered slave.
  • Some black people owned slaves too after they were freed.
  • According to Virginia law in 1849 (pg 195), any person who had 1/4 black blood was considered a mulatto and therefore a Negro.
  • The reality of it was all in look. If someone looked white, they were pretty much free.

Section 3

  • This section is all about the status of slaves. Most sates considered them personal property, but some considered them real estate.
  • They were considered "chattels personal" which means a private movable possession.

Section 4

  • This section talks about all the impersonal legal code that was written about "chattels personal". Basically all these lawyers had written this legal code on property but the property just happened to be people.
  • Business men discussed the cost of slaves like they would discuss the cost of tabacco (pg 201)
  • People invested in slaves like people invest in stocks…and some people gave slaves as gifts.
  • There were court cases going on all the time of people suing others who abused their salves and reduced the market value.
  • The last will and testament of slave owners involved giving away the slaves.

Section 5

  • This section talks about how every state had its own slave code, and the basic thing was all slaves must be obedient to their master and respect all white people.
  • Also, there were all kinds of rules about slaves traveling without passes, slaves not being taught to read or write, slaves not being allowed to be sold liqour or sell their own stuff.
  • Towns had their own local laws too.
  • The law came down harder on blacks than whites for every criminal offense. The law also came down hard on white people who tried to help slaves escape.
  • There were also things called slave patrols that were designed to go catch renegade slaves.
  • Also, people tried to get any free blacks to be forced to leave the state they were in or be re-enslaved.

Section 6

  • There was some legislation against masters who were abusive or neglected feeding their slaves.
  • But, they weren't prosecuted very often because slaves couldn't testify.
  • Most of the time it was a fine for abuse or neglect.
  • There were a few cases where the death penalty was given (pg 221). One guy had tortured his slave to death. Another guy murdered another man's slave.
  • Murdering another person's slave was the offense most punishable. Rarely did an owner of a slave get in serious or any trouble for killing his own slave.
  • Because slaves couldn't testify, it was hard to get convictions. Even if a white man testified, a white jury would rarely convict.

Section 7

  • Slaves were often brought to trial in what were called "Negro Courts" where there was one justice and some slave owners…not exactly an impartial trial. The punishment was often lashings.
  • For capital cases, often slaves would be tried in a regular court, and later one they were tried for any offense in these courts in many states, although a few stuck with the Negro courts.
  • Basically, no matter what, black people rarely if ever got a fair trial…unless the crime that had been committed was against another slave.

Section 8

  • Because slaves were often tried in a Negro Court, they often got away with some crimes because their master didn't want them punished the normal way.
  • Often slave owners would bend the law with regards to their slaves.

Section 9

  • Often, when a slave owner tried free a slave the state made it difficult. They had all these laws that forced freed slaves to leave the state in a certain amount of time after their release.
  • Often they had to leave the USA.
  • In several deep south states, the private freeing of a slave was illegal. (pg 233)
  • If an owner wanted to release his slaves in his will, he had to make sure he worded it right and sent the slaves outside the state.
  • Basically, this was all happening because white southerners didn't like free black people.

Chapter 6 (Slavemongering)

Section 1

  • Since slaves were considered movable property, people could transfer the title of a slave easily and salves were easily moved to where they were needed.
  • Many of the Atlantic states exported many of their slaves to the more western states.
  • There were professional slave traders who would buy slaves, move them, and then re-sell them.
  • Slave trading was a lucrative business, but people really looked down on them.

Section 2

  • Because slave trade was so big, people accused slave owners of breeding slaves for trade…for some reason this was looked down upon…as if slavery isn't bad enough.
  • Slaves were now brought up and marketed. Slave owners loved women slaves who could bear children…they were valuable and they encouraged them to have kids.
  • Some guy in Alabama bought a female slave for breeding and when she couldn't, he sued the seller for fraud. (pg 249)

Section 3

  • This section is about federal and state regulation of slave trading.
  • The federal government outlawed import of slaves from Africa in 1808, but didn't do much about the state to state trade.
  • Many states tried to ban slave trading at some time or another, usually when the slave population started getting too high…whites got afraid.
  • Most states had laws though that made slaves sold with proper papers and warranties basically.

Section 4

  • This section is all about what slave traders were viewed as.
  • People thought they were dirty disgusting cheats. They often lied about their methods and dealt with slave kidnappers.
  • Most professionals never really got rich…and there were many small time people trying to make money. It's kind of like the people who gamble on the stock market today on E-trade…the day traders…they usually lose money.
  • It was risky work because you had to pay for the slave, pay for the transport, and risk the slave getting sick, dying, running away, or not being bought.
  • The most successful trading firm was Franklin and Armfield started in 1828 (pg 261).

Section 5

  • People who defended slavery tried to put the blame on slave traders as being the bad people, but the slave owners were just as guilty. They did business with the slave traders to make profit off people. They split up families.
  • Not all traders were dirty folk, some were respectable men.

Section 6

  • This section is all about the effects of closing the trading of slaves from Africa. The Federal government banned the slave trade, but like drugs, people still made a lot of money off doing it illegally.
  • Also, the punishments were rarely enforced.
  • Many people in the South wanted the slave trade re-opened because of the high prices of slaves. This was especially true of small farmers who didn't have a lot of dough.

 

Chapter 7 (Maintenance, Morbidity, Mortality)

Section 1

  • This section is all about how to properly take care of a slave. Not like…oh..how to raise a child, but more like, how to raise a horse. The maintenance of an animal.
  • A lot of southerners felt that they treated their slaves very well and they lived better than most laborers in the North…but the author points out that most slaves weren't treated as well as southerners said they were…and also, they were still slaves and unlike free northerners…could never make their lives better.

Section 2

  • This section is about the diet of slaves.
  • Some doctor, Dr John Wilson of Columbus Georgia (pg 283) actually wrote an essay about what food is good for Negroes.
  • Most slaves ate fatty pork and corn.
  • Some slaves were fed well, but most were not fed enough and fed terrible food.
  • Also, slaves were not fed at a table with utensils, and just ate out of pots.
  • If a slave owner was ever short on money or crops, the slaves would always be the ones to suffer.

Section 3

  • This section is about slaves clothing. It was usually not much…rough cotton.
  • Slave children used to just run around in long t-shirts with no shoes.
  • Rich owners would often dress up their house slaves to make them look good as a sign of wealth.

Section 4

  • This section is just about how to build the proper housing for slaves. Like most things, the proper housing was never built.

Section 5

  • This section is all about how slaves got sick a lot and often died. The south had a climate which brought a lot of disease to white and blacks, but since blacks were overworked and underfed, they died more.
  • Southern slave owners complained about the sickness amongst slaves because it meant they had to buy more and that cost money.
  • A lot of the fevers that people contracted were forms of Malaria (pg300).
  • The medical community down there didn't know how to deal with Malaria…and usually, the yellow fever killed whites more than blacks.

Section 6

  • This section is all about how ass backwards the southern medical community was.
  • They still believed blacks and whites were biologically different and couldn't be treated the same way.
  • Then the author talks about how some masters gave good medical attention to their sick slaves because of the property value, but also because they were there "people" (pg 314).

Section 7

  • This section tells about how good medical attention to slaves was the exception and not the rule. Most slaves suffered very badly.
  • A lot of blacks died, but the population still increased.
  • The most amount of deaths were infant…for both whites and blacks…but very high for black infants.

Chapter 8 (Between two cultures)

Section 1

  • This section is about how after the emancipation of slaves their was a lot of racial tension, and white people would look back at the slave days and say…in the good old days, whites and blacks lived together in harmony. That was because whites were slave owners and blacks were slaves.
  • They like to think of Southern men being Patriarchs who cared for the blacks. The image of the good master looking after his slaves is more myth than truth. Most slave owners were people trying to make a lot of money by using free labor and not always humane.
  • There were plenty of cases of slave owners who felt close to their slaves and cared for them. Domestic slaves were very much part of some families and allowed to travel on a bus with whites. These stories of whites caring for blacks were made into the myth that slavery was good for racial harmony.
  • These cases usually came from small estates where there wasn't an overseer and a lot of contact between the master and slaves.
  • Many slave owners were saddened by the loss of certain slaves who they had gotten to know, usually domestic slaves, but didn't care much when other slaves died.

Section 2

  • This section deals with Southern society structure.
  • In the south, there was a class system based on family breeding but mainly property. (pg 331) Basically the more you owned, the higher up you were.
  • The south also had a caste system….based on your appearance. If you were black, you were on the bad side of the caste system. All whites, regardless of their class, considered themselves superior to all blacks. (pg 332)
  • Blacks were very aware of the caste system and stuck together. "White man's Negroes" were not common. Blacks would not rat on each other usually.
  • Slaves had their own class system. Because they weren't free and couldn't do what white people did to raise their class status..ie. be independent, get money, have a respectable family…the blacks respected rebellious slaves and ones that were able to cheat the master.
  • They also looked up to athleticism because most were uneducated.
  • Most plantations had one or two slaves that stood out as leaders, often by their strength and wisdom.
  • Another way slaves gained status was being good at their job…especially so in the household and skilled positions. With skill, came special attention, which brought pride and some respect.
  • Slaves looked down on poor white people and called them white trash. The worst thing that was possible was being the slave of a poor man.

Section 3

  • This section is about the cultural problems faced by slaves in the South. In Africa, there was a set moral code and family structure…but when slaves were brought to America..that no longer existed. Instead, the salves were supposed to follow the example of white society…which was hard because they were slaves and couldn't achieve that status.
  • Marriage was something that was under the control of the master…so the master decided if two slaves could get married and how they should live.
  • No laws protected the slave family and most slave families didn't have a whole lot to hold them together, therefore the family was not as an important part of life.
  • Because the slave family was controlled by the master, there was no economic foundation, and no protection for the children.
  • It was hard too if a slave's wife was made to take off her clothes and get whipped, the man had to just sit and watch…and vice versa.
  • The family was usually centered around the mom (pg 344)
  • Slave families were very unstable.
  • A lot slaves had a lot of sex with lots of people and didn't follow the moral code of whites. Whites looked down on them for having no morals.
  • A lot of whites didn't follow their moral code either since they had a lot of sex with slaves.
  • Many slave families were split up if one of the members was sold or traded.

Section 4

  • Marriage between blacks and whites was illegal, but it didn't mean they didn't sleep with each other.
  • Most of it was white men having sex with black women, but white women did it too.
  • Because of this, a lot of mulattos were born.
  • White men who had sex with slaves weren't really looked down on, but white women who did were very much looked down on.
  • A lot of this was just causal sex, but sometimes relationships developed.
  • As you can imagine, the sex was not always willing.

Section 5

  • This section is about what kind of culture did the black slave have.
  • Some of the African traditions were kept, but slaves forgot most of it because they were forced to accept whatever white people felt they should.
  • Basically, blacks lost their culture and is was not replaced with the best of white culture.
  • Slaves didn't do much in their free time…they just idle and enjoyed not having to work. (pg 364)
  • Dancing was a big thing for slaves. As was their music.
  • Negro spirituals are famous and they are a mix of African interpretation of Christian hymns.
  • Slaves also drank a lot of cheap liqour.

Section 6

  • This section is about slaves and religion.
  • Slaves took religion seriously, although most whites looked down on them as a bunch of sinners.
  • Most slaves were Christian as they had been taught but liked to interpret it their own way.
  • Some superstition was also around, and not necessarily brought from Africa, more likely given to them by white Christians. (pg 375)
  • Religious slaves were very similar to poor religious white people (pg 377).

Section 7

  • There are a lot of documents on how masters felt about slaves but not as much as how slaves thought of masters.
  • The author lists a few of the main points (pg377-378):
  • 1) Slaves did not have on uniform attitude towards whites, but instead a whole range.
  • 2) They spent a lot of time dealing with their relations with whites.
  • 3) The found the "management of whites as complex as their masters found the management of Negroes" (pg 378)
  • Slaves had different way of dealing with whites…often by playing the fool and being as nice as possible.
  • Other slaves had a constant mistrust of whites (pg 380)
  • Most slaves were always nervous around white people though.

Chapter 9 (Profit and Loss)

Section 1

  • This whole chapter is a look at how profitable slavery was in the 1850's.
  • Proslavery writers talk about how slavery was good for whites and blacks, and use religious and scientific reasons why…and that is was the cornerstone of the south. They never come out and say…hey slaves are cheap and you can pay them nothing and make $$. They actually said it was expensive to have slaves and free labor was cheaper.
  • Even some Northern liberals agreed with this saying slavery was bad because free labor is cheaper and better.
  • The author asks then…if slave labor was so expensive, why not free slaves and get free labor? Why were slaves still so worth so much on the market?
  • Possible reasons he gives: 1) People were expecting to make money because they did in the past. 2) There business records were not good so they didn't realize they were losing money. 3) Maybe it was everyone was too lazy to get rid of it and it was a custom.
  • The author talks about how the farming way of life with slaves was ingrained in the South…beyond just economics…it was how things were done. Owning slaves and farming was the most prestigious thing to do.
  • Proslavery writers also claim to free slaves would be dangerous because blacks are not fit to be free and it slavery was the best way of life for them. (pg 387)
  • The author feels though, that the slave lifestyle was more profitable them people would like to say and that's really why it stayed.

Section 2

  • The author looks at who the slave system was profitable for. Not most southerners because they didn't have slaves.
  • The slave owners profited but how much is hard to tell…it differed from slaveholder to slaveholder.

Section 3

  • A big myth is that southern farmers often went into debt because of slaves.
  • This had more to do with how good the farmer was. Plus, farming depends on the land and weather too. A lot of fields were used up.
  • People blamed slavery because they said slaves ruined the land. This is just stupid. The fields wore out because of the farming methods.
  • People started having to change their farming methods, and the people leading the way were usually always slave owners.
  • The author then talks about how it is a myth that free labor is cheaper than slave labor.
  • To sum up the section, Slave owners made money.

Section 4

  • This section is a look at the detail of slave owners accounting books. It shows that most slave owners counted their profits only by what they sold of their crop.
  • They didn't take into account money made from selling the minor things slaves farmed, or hiring out of slaves, or the fact they didn't have to pay anybody to do any work around the house or buy any food.
  • Not all slave owners were getting super rich, but they seemed to be doing well.

Section 5

  • The author uses the price of slaves in the 1850's to make the point that slave prices were high therefore slavery was still profitable.
  • He gives all these prices of slaves in different parts of the country.
  • So, people who were saying slavery was a expensive drain on the southern economy were wrong.

Chapter 10 (He who has endured)

Section 1

  • Not everyone in America in the 1850's were totally sold on Democracy. People didn't all believe that everyone was equal and should get a vote.
  • The people who felt this way most were southerners slave owners in the Old South.
  • People thought these ideas of Equal Rights were sentimentalism.
  • "The equal rights doctrine is nonsense" John C. Calhoun..the most distinguished Southern proslvery statesmen (pg 420)
  • "some men are born with saddles on their backs and others booted and spurred to ride them, and the riding does them good" George Fitzhugh of Virginia (pg 420)
  • The southern conservatives felt the best way to take care of the labor problems other countries…like strikes, and mobs, and revolutions…is to make the workforce slaves…like the south.
  • Slave holders also liked the power of bring a master and not having their authority questioned…like a free worker could do.
  • The author talks about how pitiful these slave owners were who tried to justify this system and couldn't just come out and understand that they did it because it paid.
  • These slaveholders knew the world was against them and they made up all these reasons why slavery was good for slaves to convince themselves as well.
  • They knew it was bad but they couldn't stop because it was profitable and also the fact they had slaves to do everything for them was too much to give up. (pg 424)

Section 2

  • This section is about all those non slave owning white southerners.
  • Why did they cling to slavery when they weren't profiting?
  • The author says that blacks were portrayed as mortal enemies of whites and slavery is what kept people safe from roaming bands of blacks.
  • This appears to have been successful since whites who didn't own slaves liked slavery.
  • They felt good that they were superior to blacks no matter how poor they be.
  • The problem was slavery was undercutting the jobs of the free white men. Slave labor was cheaper then theirs. Instead of getting rid of slavery, these white people just hated blacks more. They never really thought to blame slavery or slave owners.
  • And for southern intellectuals, they had to keep their thinking within a certain realm. Such as, are blacks and whites the same species? (pg 429)

Section 3

  • The author sums up here saying that some people think that white men suffered just as much from slavery as black men. That black people never knew anything better and they were happy and content.
  • Then he uses a quote from a former slave "Tisn't he who has stood and looked on that can tell you what slavery is, 'tis he who has endured"
  • The author then says, you can feel sorry for white people in the south and the moral dilemma he was trapped in, but it wasn't white men who were slaves…it was blacks…and when they were freed…all they really lost was their chains.