Slavery: Free Essay on Early American History

Published: 2022-10-04
Slavery: Free Essay on Early American History
Type of paper:  Argumentative essay
Categories:  Slavery American history
Pages: 6
Wordcount: 1551 words
13 min read

Slavery was a common practice in American history. Slaves were considered non-humans that were used to work in plantations in the rural areas or serve the white masters in urban areas. A city slave was almost a free man, compared with a slave on the plantation. The paper explores various experiences of rural and urban slaves in the early American periods. Furthermore, the paper explains various advantages and disadvantages of living in rural or urban areas. Finally, its paper is wrapped up with a concise summary of the discussion, and after that, a list of references is provided.

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Slaves in the United States of America lived and were treated as "things" that had no value except for their labor force (Douglass 2016, p. 43). The white masters who used them as the workforce in their farms and homes owned them. Slaves had limited rights, and no voice in the society (Gibson 2018, p.15). They were required to completely submit to the master who could do with them as he wished such as selling them or settle debts or as a punishment. Slaves underwent very brutal and degrading treatments, the worst ever thought of.

Life in plantations was like "hell" to slaves, both men and women. It was the worst place slaves could ever find themselves. The following are some of the known experiences that slaves passed through in the rural agricultural plantations.

First, slaves experienced heavy and forced labor in farms. Plantation masters and overseers forced slaves to work hard for very long hours (Douglass 2016, p. 43). They physically harassed slaves during work in farms. The suffering was even harsher in farms managed by overseers for the absentee slaveholders. Slaves were utterly overworked amid untold sufferings. For any slight mistakes, they were brutally punished through floggings, beatings, brandings, or shackles.

Second, slaveholders gave limited food to slaves. Hunger was a faithful companion to most slaves in the rural plantations. Slaveholders provided limited amounts of food to slaves for them to survive. The food was a poor quality boiled coarse cornmeal set in a wooden tray. Large numbers of slaves gathered to scramble over the little food in the tray. The strongest and fastest slaves got most from it, and very few of them left the tray satisfied (Gibson 2018, p.54).

Additionally, slaves were always tired and worn out from tough work and torture. Severe beatings left terrible scars on their bodies. Torture was part of life in rural plantations. It was used to align slaves to the will of their master. However, sometimes slaveholders could brutally flog slaves to instill fear in them and to enhance greater submission. Such torturous practices subjected slaves to dire stress and agony.

Moreover, slaves had no freedom of association. They were not allowed to interact with other slaves for religious practices on their own lest they rebel to their masters. Besides, they had no much time for recreation and relaxation. They mostly worked in farms for very long hours that they could not find any time for themselves.

Slaves had no right to education. They were not allowed to learn reading or writing. The law prohibited teaching slaves as a measure to prevent them from aspiring to escape and possible rebellion to their masters. As a result, they remained unintelligent, thoughtless, and mindless of the ways to escape from slavery. In so doing, the slaves remained slaves for the rest of their lives, toiling terribly in plantation farms to generate huge agricultural profits for their masters.

Slaveholders and their son's sexually assaulted slave women. Male masters looked at slave women as objects for sexual satisfaction but not as humans that deserve respect. For that matter, masters frequently raped women fearlessly since there was no law prohibiting that. The forced sexual intercourse left these women with untold mental scars that could not be healed. They had to submit anyway as resistance led to brutal torture. Some slave women were killed while trying to resist rape.

Furthermore, slaves in rural plantations lived in terrible hygiene conditions. They did not have good clothes and shoes to wear. Their clothes were dissipated, and their feet had terrible cracks from hard work in farms. They were sheltered in isolated houses with inadequate standards of hygiene making them live like mindless animals.

On the other hand, slaves living in cities had a more relaxed experience as compared to their counterparts in the countryside. In the cities, slaves had the freedom to interact with different people. Therefore, they could easily gain enlightenment by learning from them. For example, Douglass interacted with the neighboring children who helped him learn reading and writing. As a result, they were more intelligent as compared to slaves in the countryside (Gibson 2018, p.25).

In addition to that, slaves in cities had access to abundant food and clothing from their masters. Slave owners in cities would feel embarrassed with their neighbors for having hunger stricken slaves. They provided sufficient foods and good clothes to glorify their reputation. Therefore, city slaves enjoyed a higher degree of freedom as compared to those in the countryside.

Slaves living in cities experienced relaxed working conditions. They were not overworked as their counterparts living in the rural plantations. In cities, there were no large farms where slaves could toil. They worked for their masters by doing household chores and other light duties that could not be compared to the "hell" of plantation farming in the countryside. Hence, a slave living in the city was more free as compared with those in the rural plantation (Douglass 2016, p. 43).

However, there were cases of sexual assault of slave women in cities. Slave owners and their sons forced slave women into sexual practices without their consent leaving them with emotional stress and discomfort. The whites were not punished for raping slaves because they were considered "things" for work, not persons who can be protected by law. Moreover, there was nobody to advocate for their rights and freedom. Therefore, they had to bear with such difficulties to avoid further brutality by their masters.

Moreover, slave children had no opportunity to attend schools with white children. They were expected to live as slaves and not acquire any education that could increase their intelligence. Hence, slaves remained stupid to serve their white masters without reasonable gain. They had no greater value than livestock. Therefore, the owner would sell slaves to other markets to earn profits or to settle their debts.

Generally, slavery was the deadliest life one could live in America given the brutal and degrading experience slaves passed through. However, slaves were treated differently depending on whether they worked in plantations or cities.

Slaves working in rural plantations had only one advantage. During Christmas season, they were given a limited period, usually six days to have a taste of freedom. Slaves were allowed to do what they chose and enjoy themselves to celebrate Christmas. Some of them spent this period playing in sports, hunting, dancing, drinking whiskey, or fiddling. The slave owners seemed humane to their slaves for those six days.

However, the disadvantages of slavery in the rural plantations by far exceeded advantages (Douglass 2016, p. 63). In the countryside, slave owners and overseers frequently flog, beat, or even kill slaves whom they feel should not live. They are overworked in plantations by force and torture. In addition to that, slaves are given very little food to eat with no care whether they are satisfied or not. Besides, slaves walk barefooted and wear dissipated clothes for their routine work in plantations. Furthermore, slaves lack mobility, overseers and slave owners strictly monitor them.

On the other hand, slaves living in cities had relatively more advantages than disadvantages. In cities, slaves had the opportunity to connect and interact with other people who could enlighten them and enhance their intelligence. For example, Douglass' mistress introduced him to reading and writing. The art which he further perfected by interacting with the white children from the neighborhood.

Additionally, city slaves had a relaxed working condition as compared to the plantation slaves in the countryside. They did not have to toil since there were no difficult jobs for slaves in the city. Besides, city slaves lived in the abundance of choice foods and good clothes unlike their counterparts in the countryside (Douglass 2016, p. 53). Moreover, city slaves were more free and mobile than those in rural plantations. Slave owners did not closely watch them as those working in plantations.

In conclusion, a city slave is almost a free man, compared with a slave on the plantation. In the city, slaves have plenty of food to eat and good clothes to wear. They do light duties with little or no supervision by slave owners. Moreover, they have more opportunity to learn reading and writing and earn a living.


DOUGLASS, F., GARRISON, W. L., & PHILLIPS, W. (2015). Narrative of the life of Frederick Douglass, an American slave. [United States], Interactive Media.

GIBSON, D. G. (2018). Frederick Douglass, a psychobiography: rethinking subjectivity in the Western experiment of democracy.

DOUGLASS, F., MCKIVIGAN, J. R., & HINKS, P. P. (2016). Narrative of the Life of Frederick Douglass, an American Slave. New Haven, Yale University Press.

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