Slavery and Resistance in America Another look at the period of slavery? What can it do for us?
Questions to Consider.. • How did African-Americans provide for themselves? • How did they get along with each other? • How did they find meaning in their lives?
Awesome Web Resources.. • http://www.pbs.org/wnet/slavery/ • http://www.slaveryinamerica.org/ • http://www.nypl.org/research/sc/sc.html • http://www.archives.gov/research/alic/reference/black-history.html
A Basis for Understanding.. • Economics (both sides) + Social Dynamics (both sides) = Complex Story of Slavery and Resistance • Sources of Knowledge: • Freedman’s Bureau records, Plantation Records (Diaries, Letters, etc.), Federal Census Records, Interviews and Testimonies (Federal Writers Project of “New Deal”), Autobiographies and Biographies,etc.
Resistance according to Steven Hahn’s - A Nation Under Our Feet Community Resources for Rebellion? Everyday Resistance, Wisdom, Trust, Concessions, Organization, Collective Intelligence, National Political Knowledge, Literacy, Rumor… Hahn’s words
“Greatest Slave Rebellion in Modern History..” • Political pressures were ahead of Federal Government policies and Lincoln’s views • “Contraband Camps” were like “mobile cities” • “Nature of Rebellion” was based on a complete understanding of plantation circumstances.
Community Family - Most lived in two-parent “households” (John Blassingame ’70) - Children often “deprived of childhood” – started work early and subject to treatment as adults (Wilma King ’95) - “Culture of Resistance” – sense of identity apart from roles imposed by masters - Some personal value based on work activities - Family relations were critical to sense of self and personal strength (Jacqueline Jones and Deborah Gray White ’85)
Community Domestic Life (within Slave Quarters) - “Matrifocal” not “Matriarchal” family structure - Male / Female roles were mostly complimentary - Adaptation of African practices with European customs – for example: Christian beliefs and African religions, naming practices, burial rituals, marriage ceremonies (“jumping the broomstick”) – all show Assimilation (or Syncretism) - Male / Female work roles were mostly defined (Jones & White ’85)
Community Marriage and Kinship ties - Many norms for marriage and kin were transferable to lives of freedom - Women working in domestic setting – child rearing, laundry, sewing, and field work considered key to survival - Men provided supplement to diet for families by hunting and fishing - Men protected children and women from punishment when possible - “Sanctity of Marriage” recognized despite laws or master’s rules - Strong affectionate ties (Eugene Genovese ’74) - Extended Kin – Uncles, Aunts, and Cousins were important part of identity (Herbert Gutman ’77)
Self-Actualization (John Hope Franklin ‘96) Key Examples - Jean Baptiste Point du Sable (1790) – African-French created first building in place now known as Chicago - Henry Blair (1835) –of MD, received patent for invention of corn harvesters - Benjamin Montgomery (1858) – w/ Jefferson Davis of SC, invented boat propeller (both men lost patent rights) - Celia of Cumberland County MO – story • Slave Community with norm of “dignity, humanity, and self-determination” (Blassingame ’70)
Self-Actualization Customs a. Recreation and Relaxation - singing, dancing, telling stories, playing games, strumming of banjo, drinking, etc. b. Religious Activities - Mixed Churches common – with segregated seating - Methodist and Baptist camp meetings – often with socializing between Blacks and Whites - Black Churches w/ Black Preachers not uncommon c. Schooling / Education - Northern settings first – MD, DE, MA - Also Black Schools in GA, SC, KY, VA, TN – mostly under white control of curriculum and lessons - Plenty of “Informal” Education – strong desire to gain literacy
Self-Actualization Resistance - Self- Injury • Starvation – two boats at Charleston in 1807 all starved • Taking one’s own life
Empowerment(John Hope Franklin ‘96) Running Away • - Underground Railroad - particularly with Harriet Tubman • - St. Louis was a key stop – Meechum story Revolting (JHF reading) • - Gabriel Prosser • - Denmark Vesey • - David Walker’s “Appeal” • - Nat Turner
Empowerment Day-to-Day Resistance - Contaminating Food w/ Urine, Poison, Glass - “Slow-Downs” of Work - Breaking Tools - Damaging Crops, Animals, and other Possessions Separate Lives - Back to points about Community “Quasi-Free” Blacks - Some African-Americans lived and worked in urban settings with some measure of freedom
Final Quote • V. Final Quote on Community, Self-Actualization, and Empowerment • - Thomas Holt (Historian) – African-Americans (those enslaved) were able to create “institutions and cultural ethos that were functional to their needs, that enabled them to survive the rigors of slavery and bequeath a legacy of resistance to their posterity”
Historiographical Work IV.Historiographical Work: - “Hamitic” Curse - Historical “Emasculation” of African-American Men Local History