This is an audio version of the Wikipedia Article:
Treatment of slaves in the United States
00:02:58 1 Living conditions
00:03:38 1.1 Brutality
00:04:33 1.2 Humane treatment
00:05:13 1.3 Education and access to information
00:06:36 1.4 Working conditions
00:07:18 1.5 Medical treatment
00:10:34 1.6 Religion
00:11:20 1.7 Earnings and possessions
00:11:49 1.8 In comparison to non-slaves
00:12:51 2 Punishment and abuse
00:17:29 2.1 Laws governing treatment
00:18:28 2.1.1 Slave codes
00:21:42 2.2 Owners convicted of crimes
00:22:45 3 Sexual relations and rape
00:22:55 3.1 Rape and sexual abuse
00:26:58 3.2 Resisting reproduction
00:31:00 3.3 Effects on womanhood
00:31:48 3.4 Slave breeding
00:33:21 3.5 Families
00:35:53 3.6 Female slave stereotypes
00:37:23 3.7 Concubines and sexual slaves
00:38:37 3.8 Anti-miscegenation sentiment
00:39:08 3.9 Mixed-race children
00:41:39 3.9.1 Relationship of skin color to treatment
00:44:16 4 See also
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“The only true wisdom is in knowing you know nothing.”
The treatment of slaves in the United States varied by time and place, but was generally brutal and degrading. Whipping and sexual abuse, including rape, were common.
Teaching slaves to read was discouraged or (depending upon the state) prohibited, so as to hinder aspirations for escape or rebellion. In response to slave rebellions such as the Haitian Revolution, the 1811 German Coast Uprising, a failed uprising in 1822 organized by Denmark Vesey, and Nat Turner’s slave rebellion in 1831, some states prohibited slaves from holding religious gatherings without a white person present, for fear that such meetings could facilitate communication and lead to rebellion.
Slaves were punished by whipping, shackling, beating, mutilation, branding and/or imprisonment. Punishment was most often meted out in response to disobedience or perceived infractions, but masters or overseers sometimes abused slaves to assert dominance. Pregnancy was not a barrier to punishment; methods were devised to administer lashings without harming the baby. Slave masters would dig a hole big enough for the woman’s stomach to lie in and proceed with the lashings. But such “protective” steps gave neither expectant slave mothers nor their unborn infants much real protection against grave injury or death from excess zeal or number of lashes inflicted, as one quote by ex-captive Moses Grandy took note:
One of my sisters was so severely punished in this way, that labour was brought on, and the child born in the field. This very overseer, Mr. Brooks, killed in this manner a girl named Mary: her [parents] were in the field at the time. He also killed a boy about twelve years old. He had no punishment, or even trial, for either [murder].
The mistreatment of slaves frequently included rape and the sexual abuse of women. The sexual abuse of slaves was partially rooted in historical Southern culture and its view of the enslaved as property. After 1662, when Virginia adopted the legal doctrine partus sequitur ventrem, sexual relations between white men and black women were regulated by classifying children of slave mothers as slaves regardless of their father’s race or status. Particularly in the Upper South, a population developed of mixed-race (mulatto) offspring of such unions, although white Southern society claimed to abhor miscegenation and punished sexual relations between white women and black men as damaging to racial purity.
Frederick Law Olmsted visited Mississippi in 1853 and wrote:
A cast mass of the slaves pass their lives, from the moment they are able to go afield in the picking season till they drop worn out in the grave, in incessant labor, in all sorts of weather, at all seasons of the year, without any other change or relaxation than is furnished by sickness, without the smallest hope of any improvement either in their condition, in their food, or in their clothing, which are of the plainest and coarsest kind, and indebted solely to the forbearance or good temper of the overseer for exception from terrible physical su …