During the time of the civil war slave life on plantations varied in many ways and some people would define slavery as a coldhearted event that occurred in history. Plantation life was harsh and it dictated the way African Americans lived life. Slaves weren’t considered humans during the slavery time period because none were treated as if one was. The slaves had to adjust as time went on because it was no longer about them it was about their work on the fields and their overseer. Although slavery was only thought to be the owning of slaves it was not, Sojourner Truth, Soloman Northup, and Harriet Tubman tell their life stories.
If the slaves are educated they are taken into the house to work. They are called slave householders. The master makes the slaves teach the children and they make sure that they give the slaves enough food to eat. Some masters that the slaves have are respectful to the blacks and take care of them if they do what they are supposed to. Slaves are personally hired to work inside the houses by their slave owners. They worked as houseboys and house women and unskilled laborers if they are chosen.
If slaves were lucky they were treated alright and didn’t do farm and field work on the master’s plantation they only did house work and did chores around the house and took care of the white children. All the slaves on the plantations had different jobs that they were obligated to do and get done each day. The slaves considered the houses they worked in their own homes. It was their home plantation and they were able to be themselves around their owners (Quarles 2-22). Most women on plantations in the south were responsible for taking care of the children.
There wasn’t a lot of contact between the white people and colored in the household unless they had demanded for the slaves to be doing something in the house. In the house if the woman were doing well enough the owner gave them extra food and better shelter and also free time when they wanted to. Since the woman knew most about how to be a mother they were not given a choice how they did stuff and when, they worked with the children and that’s it. In the house the treatment towards the women wasn’t as severe as the men’s because the men on the farm were constantly doing field work with supervisors from morning to night time.
The cycle of the female slaves never stopped and they had big responsibilities (Hine 3). Out on the field the men would grow so tired that they needed the women’s help doing easy tasks. The men no longer had good stamina or any physical strength and the females did because they weren’t outside only in doing chores for the children and their parents who wasn’t even half as hard as being out on the field picking crops and walking back and forth bringing heavy bags and jugs of food and water.
On the field the owners sometimes allowed families to stay together but they had to figure it out on their own and come up with a strategy on how to work on the fields together because they didn’t want to be separated and tending to other owners. Slaves on the field were always tired when working because they weren’t given time to relax and mess around and if they did the men supervising would beat them until they worked faster. The important thing about working on the field was that the slaves that picked the most crops got the most food (Hine 4-5).
Slaves were back and forth on the plantation to get supplies that they needed because they were considered field hands. Even if they weren’t suited for hard labor they were required to do it anyway. Slaves were ordered to work in all kinds of weather. No matter if it was bad conditioned weather they were not allowed to complain because if they did they were beaten. The slaves were spied on while they were working to make sure they were working diligently and fast enough where things were getting done on the plantation. Days on the plantation fields were exhausting and tiring (McCurdy 24-25).
Harriet Tubman was compared to Moses from the bible because she led blacks out of slavery and led them to freedom. Harriet was born and raised a slave on a Maryland Plantation. In 1849 she escaped to the northern states and did her best to help others escape to the better states. She made dangerous trips back and forth to the south to led slaves to safety. Tubman led over 300 slaves to freedom which included her parents. She had strict rules such as if slaves wanted to escape there was no turning back or fooling around. She knew the exact routes to take to get to the south and never was caught (Heinrichs 36-37).
She was a hero and took on a great amount of responsibility other slaves that escaped without her help had their own problems to face on their own. She was extremely brave for traveling with so many slaves because she could be caught at any time while on the go. Her human desire to be free is admirable because she never quit and fought to keep on going when she knew it was risky (Horton 1). Soloman Northup was born in New York, 100 miles from the Canadian border. On Solomans dads side his ancestors had all been slaves. Although soloman was born a free man because his mother had been documented as free he still helped around the farm.
Soloman had received his signed papers that said he was a free black man. He had traveled to a legal slave state and he had become sick and he woke up without his papers and was lured into the south and sold to farmers. He had told his owner that he was a free black man but he beat him when he tried to tell him the truth. He had been captured in 1841 and sold to New Orleans because the people believed he was a runaway slave from Georgia. He was chained and whipped savagely not knowing if he was going to survive (Fradin 10-19). At some plantation farms slaves found better working conditions.
They were able to grow their physical strength because they weren’t beaten as badly and they were able to talk to other slaves while working on the field. The slaves were not required to perform any type of labor that they didn’t know how to do. Master of the plantation did not let the slaves do things they didn’t have permission to do. The slaves were slowed to be educated. On Sabbath day the slaves had to work as teachers and teach the kids and educate them (McCurdy 34-38). The slaves were able to roam around their owner’s plantation when they finished all the work that needed to be done.
The slaves would go deep in the woods of the farm and hang out there with other black slaves. Their owners gave them free time at the end of the day to prevent to slaves from getting to worn out from doing their field work. Some parts of the plantation was off limits to them but they didn’t go near those parts unless told otherwise. They were treated okay on occasion but if they were disrespectful that was another story (Camp 1). If slaves were disobeying their owners wishes they were taken into little log houses, stripped completely naked and hung on a rail and whipped. They were sometimes not allowed to drink water.
They chained slaves to other slaves and made them walk around the plantation all day. Heavy irons were chained to the slave’s feet and it made it hard for the slaves to move around. They were shot at if they attempted to escape or were caught getting out at night. They faced extreme abuse at times when working on the plantation. Most of the time slaves were scared from the neck down from being whipped. They were beaten unmercifully and sent to different plantations often. Slave owners didn’t care what the weather was they forced the slaves to work in all sorts (Bayliss 51-80).
If slaves were hurt or too tired to perform good work some days they were tormented and threatened (“Sojourner Truth” 2). The Underground Railroad carried tons of passengers between 1830 and 1860. Slaves knew they were risking their lives when they went to escape. The railroad was not something people would imagine back in the days of slavery. It didn’t have tracks or any type of schedule but yet people traveled to freedom on this train. The railroad was a secretive network of people that controlled it. The mission of the train was to help
African American slaves escape their plantations in the southern states. The slaves were dragged back to their masters if they were caught escaping, they were cruelly beaten and even had to face jail time. As many as 1000 slaves were freed by the Underground Railroad and taken to the North. They kept them in safe homes until it looked safe enough to continue moving again. They believed that they should have the right to experience a better life outside of southern plantations (Heinrichs 8-13). Freedom was mostly in the northern states and slaves tried to get there from the south.
Astronomy had played a key part in the southern plantation slave life. Escaping slaves faced tough obstacles that included them traveling alone at night. Looking at the sky and the stars at night the slaves knew what was north, south, east, and west. The slaves had been educated with elementary astronomy and paid attention to the big dipper and it was apart of their every day life to look up and tell where they were at, because in some way it was going to soon lead them to freedom. Slave owners weren’t aware of the slaves being able to tell by the sky (Rall 1-2). In the north it was better in everyway.
It was cooler, the slaves weren’t in charge of so much duties and in the north the black men and women were becoming free people. Even though the slaves still might have been slaves for a while in the north the treatment wasn’t harsh and the plantations didn’t hold lots of crops that the slaves were forced the tend to (“Sojouner Truth” 1-2). African American slavery would be defined as a shocking aspect in the world and something that continues being a very crazy phenomenon. The significance of the slavery on plantations is explained by ones that experienced cruelty and enslavement themselves.