- Free Essays, Term Papers & Book Notes

Racism in the South

By:   •  Essay  •  1,141 Words  •  February 8, 2010  •  719 Views

Page 1 of 5

Join now to read essay Racism in the South

Antebellum is defined at as "Belonging to the period before a war, especially the American Civil War."1 In the Antebellum period in the South, many people owned slaves.

In the south, plantations were "the most basic unit and the most vital element of the Southern antebellum economy."2 But at the heart of these plantations were the slaves. So vicariously, the slaves of the South were the most vital part of the Southern economy.

Slaves, although taken from Africa, were still able to hold onto their religious traditions and beliefs. They would incorporate their traditions into the Christian belief structure that the south had already setup. They kept their dances, chants, songs, etc. by disguising them into their master's religion, thereby ensuring that it would be passed down from generation to generation.

The slaves weren't treated as even close to equals to their masters. Their masters would live in the mansion of the plantation, while the slaves would dwell in recklessly built cabins that were separated from the rest of the plantation. These quarters were where the African American culture began to take shape. They began to be inspired to want what the white man wanted, and what they were denied.

Slave labor was handed out by what each slave itself was capable of. If a slave were to finish a job early, he would be able to get the rest of the day off for recreational purposes. Not only that, but if a slave were to finish two jobs in one day, then he would receive the next day off. This day was commonly referred to as a "Holiday." This rewards system created a more competitive edge to work in the fields, making the slave production increase. This also made the slaves more content, and less persuaded to run. On the other hand, there were punishments also. "Exceptional misbehavior also warranted the attention of the slavemaster and his wrath."2 The beatings, whippings, etc. were unpredictable. The beatings didn't need an explanation. It wasn't like the law was going to step in, because it was your property and you could do whatever you wanted with it. It would be like if you were to throw your computer out of a 10-story window. Its your property and you can do whatever you want with it. That was their view on slaves at the time.

The plantation owners primarily bought the male slaves, for they were worth the most and could carry the most load of the genders. But from high runaway rates of the male slaves, they started to buy the females.

"The main reason for the purchasing of slave women had definitely been for reasons that involved the slaveholder's sexual desires rather than the female's economic potential."2

After a while, the male to female ratio of which the plantation owners bought evened out, and this actually did better for the plantation owners than they probably would have expected. As they bought more females and males, they would procreate, making more slave children for the prosperous growth of their plantation.

Slaves were able to marry, and make families with each other on plantations. Hence "A married male slave had more responsibility to his mate and children and therefore would be more deterred from trying to escape."2 This fact made the plantation owners job a lot easier by not having to worry about escaping slaves as much. This marriage not only helped settle down the male slaves, but also passed on the African American heritage, and values. The slaves were allowed to name their own children, enabling the black community to thrive through the emancipation.

When most think of the south and slavery, they think of everyone having huge plantations filled with hundreds of slaves. Quite the contrary, only about ј of the southern whites didn't even own slaves, far less hundreds. And of those ј, there only about 12% owned more than 20 of them. Although most southern whites that didn't own slaves, most did however believe in slavery. They just didn't have the money to buy them. They longed to be one of the elite and own slaves.

Slaves had many jobs to do around the plantation…

"Enslaved people had to clear new land,

Continue for 4 more pages »  •  Join now to read essay Racism in the South and other term papers or research documents
Download as (for upgraded members)