Plantation Life Cotton plantation on the Mississippi, Currier and Ives, By out of a population in the South of about 12 million, slaves accounted for roughly one third, or 4 million. Cotton had become king, replacing tobacco, sugar cane, and rice as major money making crops. Many southerners had come to believe that slavery was not only necessary but also profitable. To be sure, only a small percentage of the southerners owned slaves, but the slave owners were the wealthiest, in general the best educated, and the most influential men in the South.
Life on the fields meant working sunup to sundown six days a week and having food sometimes not suitable for an animal to eat. Plantation slaves lived in small shacks with a dirt floor and little or no furniture.
Life on large plantations with a cruel overseer was oftentimes the worst. However, work for a small farm owner who was not doing well could mean not being fed.
The stories about cruel overseers were certainly true in some cases. The overseer was paid to get the most work out of the slaves; therefore, overseers often resorted to whatever means was necessary. Sometimes the slaves would drive the overseer off the plantation in desperation. When slaves complained that they were being unfairly treated, slaveholders would most often be very protective of their "property" and would release the overseer.
Slaves who worked inside the plantation homes often had better living and working conditions than slaves who worked in the fields. In some cases, a driver was used rather than an overseer.
The difference between the overseer and the driver was simple: A driver might be convinced by a master to manage the slaves for better privileges. Drivers were usually hated by the rest of the slaves.
These feelings often led to violence. Large plantations often required some slaves to work in the plantation home. These slaves enjoyed far better circumstances.
Domestic slaves lived in better quarters and received better food. In many cases, a class system developed within the slave community. Domestic slaves did not often associate themselves with plantation slaves.
They often aspired to arrange courtships for their children with other domestic slaves. This Slave Code booklet for Washington D. As the Peculiar Institution spread across the South, many states passed "slave codes," which outlined the rights of slaves and the acceptable treatment and rules regarding slaves.
Slave codes varied from state to state, but there were many common threads. One could not do business with a slave without the prior consent of the owner. Slaves could be awarded as prizes in raffles, wagered in gambling, offered as security for loans, and transferred as gifts from one person to another.
A slave was not permitted to keep a gun. If caught carrying a gun, the slave received 39 lashes and forfeited the gun. Blacks were held incompetent as witnesses in legal cases involving whites.
The education of slaves was prohibited. Slaves could not assemble without a white person present.
Marriages between slaves were not considered legally binding. Therefore, owners were free to split up families through sale. Any slave found guilty of arson, rape of a white woman, or conspiracy to rebel was put to death.
Rape was common on the plantation, and very few cases were ever reported. The law served as a model for codes in other colonies. This webpage from PBS provides a brief overview and links to related topics.
Antebellum Slavery What happens when an ardent abolitionist marries a member of one of the largest slaveholders in the South? A disastrous marriage — and a moving epic of slavery in the South. Read excerpts from the account, which includes physical and mental abuse as well as the story of the largest sale of human beings in the history of the United States.
Links to other moving stories surrounding antebellum before the war slavery abound as well. Read more about the slave code which served as a model for future laws.On the Plantations; British Involvement in the Transatlantic Slave Trade; On a signal the buyers rushed forward and chose those slaves they liked best." On arrival, the Africans were prepared for sale like animals.
A description of the life of an enslaved plantation worker was described by Renny in Plantation slaves lived in small shacks with a dirt floor and little or no furniture.
Life on large plantations with a cruel overseer was oftentimes the worst. However, work for a small farm owner who was not doing well could mean not being fed. Aug 04, · This video re-creates how plantation life was for the slaves and their owners.
A historically preserved Southern mansion is investigated and the past system of plantation owners and slaves . Daily Life on a Plantation: Slavery, Primary Sources, and Multimedia The objective of this activity is to give students some experience using a multimedia computer application to demonstrate knowledge of daily slave life gained from primary sources.
Buying and Selling Slaves. Before the Civil War, nearly 4 million black slaves toiled in the American South. Modem scholars have assembled a great deal of evidence showing that few slaves accepted their lack of freedom or enjoyed life on the plantation. The type of life slaves could expect to live depended first and foremost on whether they lived on farms or in towns.
The first image that comes to mind when considering chattel slavery is plantation life. Of course the cultivation of the planter's crop was the priority.
Beyond these duties, slaves might also be expected to clear land, build a.