From the reading in Module Week 11 and Chapter 11 of the text describe two things that you learned that were different from your prior perspective or different from what you learned in K-12.
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Week 11 Professor Haber Content Comments
Expansion of slavery
White southerners moved to the new cotton lands in Alabama, Texas, Mississippi, and Texas.
Even though the U.S. ended legal slave importation in 1808, the slave population increased
through natural increase plus illegal arrivals. The domestic slave trade was still legal.
Animal Trickster Tales were folk tales from the West African tradition. In the tales the weak
animal such as a rabbit triumphs over the stronger animal such as a fox. The weaker animal
triumphs not by physical strength but by wit and cunning. (Thus he was a trickster)
Slaves would tell these tales and they became part of Southern stories and traditions. In telling
these tales slaves would teach the younger generation stories about their society and in doing so
they would describe the conditions of their lives. Slaves rarely could win by overpowering the
slaveholder; however they would use covert activity as a form of resistance. These tales were a
form of adaptation and show how their African heritage was used as a basis of these stories.
Trickster tales are found in many cultures all over the world.
Your text offers limited treatment. It was not a real railroad but was a series of secret safe
houses. It was organized with names taken from the real railroad. Those who gave information
and directions were conductors as an example. Safe houses were stops on the railroad. The
railroad went to the Free states and also across the Great Lakes into Canada. See the map links at
the end of this file.
Isolation of Southern White women
Part of the reason for the dependency and subordinate role of the Southern white women was
isolation. Remember the South was far more agrarian and rural than the North. Most white
southern women lived on small farms without slaves. They didn’t have the social contacts and
support compared to Northern women. As we will see in Chapter 12, Northern and Northwest
women were able to have influence outside the home in the area of reform work and church
associations. In contrast to the South in these other regions part of the idea of “Republican
motherhood was that women would help raise good citizens. This ideal expanded in the
antebellum era to mean women could use their special characteristics to better society.
Women on large plantations with slaves were only about 5 % of southern women.
Southern Plantation Mistress
We know from private diaries that the plantation mistresses resented the slave women. The
sexual abuse of slave women was known to the white southern mistresses but they most
concluded they had no power to change these activities.
Some students asked why with the brutality of their lives the slaves had children. Students
wondered why they became pregnant if life during pregnancy, childbirth, and child raising was
so difficult. First, back then birth control was limited to the refraining from sexual relations or
withdrawal during the act of sexual intercourse. We speak in generalities as slave
experiences varied by master, overseer and situation. Frederick Douglass an escapted slave from
Maryland who became a prominent abolitionist wrote a biography of his life in the Narrative of
the Life of Frederick Douglass: An American Slave. In it Douglass shares a variety of
experiences under different masters and settings. We will read about Douglass in Chapter 12
Marriage among slaves was illegal. Master wanted their slaves to “pair” and have children.
There are cases where masters threatened to sell a slave if they didn’t pair up and have children.
Some slaves were bought to be “breeders”. Even in this evil system, slave men and women fell
in love. Slave “marriages” which were recognized among the slave community were frequent,
even if not legal. There were some plantation mistresses who staged elaborate slave marriages;
however even if slaves had a “recognized” marriage, an owner might sell one of the partners to
pay debts or to make money. If a family member was taken away by sale, others in the
community took care of the spouse who was left and nurtured the children. One of the first
things many slaves did after they were freed was to find loved ones and get married legally.
Fanny Kemble- was a white actress who was married to a large plantation owner in coastal
Georgia. She won the trust of the female slaves on Butler Island. In her journal she said the
slaves “would fall back into the desperate uncomplaining habit of suffering”. Due to the trust the
slave women built up with Fanny they shared their pain and sorry and stories with her. Fanny
anticipated that after she would leave Butler Island the slaves would go back to holding their true
feelings inside knowing that complaining “got them nowhere”. Slaves would not share their true
feelings with whites. When slaves would sing some songs had double meanings. The songs also
helped them get through the day as they would sing of escapes (such as going to Canaan)
freedom (steal away to Jesus) and God. Singing was a tradition brought from Africa. If you are
interested in learning more about songs see: https://www.loc.gov/item/ihas.200197495/
Result of Nat Turners Rebellion
After Nat Turner’s Rebellion most of the southern legislatures tightened restrictions on slaves.
They prohibited the freeing of slaves in wills, and some required free blacks leave their
states. They also forbid free blacks to enter their states. it became more difficult to emancipate
ones slaves. Those free blacks already living there were subject to much more scrutiny and
The quilts had symbolic messages and patterns too. For instance one pattern they used was
“underground railroad” pattern for quilts. Quilts were often hung outside safe houses to show
they were “safe” for escaped slaves.
Brooks Sumner fight and honor
Preston Brooks attack Sumner because he was defending the “honor” of his Uncle Senator
Andrew Butler and the state of South Carolina. He felt Sumner had insulted him. Brooks was
celebrated in South Carolina and presented with a new cane with an engraved handle.
Free blacks (also in the Chapter 12 content comments)
It is true that they often lived in poverty; however Brinkley does not tell the full story.
See this Library of Congress website
“Some were active participants in American society. Black men enlisted as soldiers and fought in
the American Revolution and the War of 1812. Some owned land, homes, businesses, and paid
taxes. In some Northern cities, for brief periods of time, black property owners voted. A very
small number of free blacks owned slaves. The slaves that most free blacks purchased were
relatives whom they later manumitted. A few free blacks also owned slave holding plantations in
Louisiana, Virginia, and South Carolina. Free African American Christians founded their own
churches which became the hub of the economic, social, and intellectual lives of blacks in many
areas of the fledgling nation. Blacks were also outspoken in print. Freedom’s Journal, the first
black-owned newspaper, appeared in 1827. This paper and other early writings by blacks fueled
the attack against slavery and racist conceptions about the intellectual inferiority of African
The public schools that were developing in the North were not integrated and allowing black
access to public schools was generally opposed to whites. It is not accurate to say they “had no
access to education”. Brinkley is confusing on this topic. Blacks started their own schools and
other institutions throughout the urban areas of the North. In fact in 1855 blacks got access to
public schools in Boston.
I also have some websites that you might want to view:
BBC report on Modern Slavery
Cotton gin patent
Slave population 1860
Do you enjoy viewing the websites? Do they help your learning? I would love to have your
feedback on the Q and A Discussion.
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