Ms. Chloe Wheatley: An Autobiography Biographies Example
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Slavery was extensively narrated in various historical documents. The origins of slavery were traced to have spanned more than 250 years since the 1600s to the late 1800s. The current discourse hereby presents an autobiography of Chloe Wheatley (1806 to 1864), a female slave taken from Africa and forced to work the cotton fields in the southern plantations. Chloe’s life would be narrated based on social, political, economic, and religious factors that impinged on her experiences as a slave. Major events within the stipulated time period would likewise be expounded to affirm how these scenarios influenced Chloe’s character. Finally, Chloe’s accomplishments and special issues would be summarized to affirm how her experiences influenced later generations of people.
II. Chloe Wheatley
Chloe arrived in Augusta, Georgia on the ship named Hamburg on May 18th, 1826. She was just twenty years old at the time she arrived and was set to face a lifetime of extreme racism, sexism, sexual exploitation and other social injustices all in the name of greed.
In the critical time frame of Chloe’s existence, during the early 1800s, there were some progress that were reported in terms of providing slaves with rights to leave the state, specifically in Virginia, upon compliance with a one year manumission. The social, political, economic, and religious factors and conditions at that time have impacted Chloe’s life.
In Georgia, however, the number of slaves were noted to have significantly increased since thousands were reported to have been imported from Africa. The increase in number of slaves have created social challenges in terms of the proliferation of slave trading who were made to work incessantly in cotton plantations. Since Chloe arrived in 1826 at the age of 20, she was at her prime age of possessing vulnerability to varied forms of exploitation and abuse: verbal, physical, and sexual. Likewise, having arrived in a completely new environment, Chloe was exposed to extreme harsh conditions in living. Her slaveholder owned as much as 30 slaves. Chloe was raped months after her arrival. She was impregnated and yet; despite her condition, she was still forced to work in the cotton plantation from dawn to dusk.
The political condition at the time fully supported slavery. As explicitly indicated, “Georgia law supported slavery in that the state restricted the right of slaveholders to free individual slaves Although the law technically prohibited whites from abusing or killing slaves, it was extremely rare for whites to be prosecuted and convicted for these crimes. The legal prohibition against slave testimony about whites denied slaves the ability to provide evidence of their victimization”.
The impact of the law on Chloe’s life was exhibiting exasperated acceptance that harsh conditions, exploitation, and immense discrimination was a natural part of her life.
Economic conditions were bleak for slave-owners and slaves. In Chloe’s case, since her slave-owner maintains 30 slaves under his jurisdiction, the expenses that were noted to be allocated were significantly small to maximize profits. As such, there were times that Chloe related decisions on practicing slave hiring as prominent. Slaves were selected according to skills and competencies and hired to other slave-owners depending on specialized needs. The earnings go to the pocket of the slave-owner. There was a time that Chloe relayed that she was hired out to work on a rice field during harvest time.
Christianity was revealed to have played a crucial role for slaves during Chloe’s time. As emphasized, “Christianity also served as a pillar of slave life in Georgia in the antebellum era. Unlike their masters, slaves drew from Christianity the message of black equality and empowerment. In the early nineteenth century African American preachers played a significant role in spreading the Gospel in the quarters”. Chloe gained strength through the teaching of the African American preachers, usually scheduled on Sunday mornings. Despite the pain of discrimination, the physical, mental, as well as sexual abuse, Chloe reportedly offered her sufferings for the salvation of her abusers.
c) Point of View
Seen from the contexts of slaves, specifically women like Chloe, her adversities were disclosed as instrumental to developing resilience and endurance. As asserted, women were observed to be challenged and exposed to propensities of running into conflicts with their slave-holders. Paton (2007) indicated that “women's inability to maintain the pace of work required by plantation managers during pregnancy, their need for recovery time after childbirth, and the needs of their young children to be fed, cleaned, loved, and integrated spiritually and socially into the human community, all brought them into conflict with the demands of the owners and managers of the plantations on which they worked”. Repeatedly, Chloe was subjected to sanctions for her inability to meet the slave-owner’s demands. She was beaten, not provided food, and made to pay for days’ wages when she was unable to work in the cotton fields.
d) Impact that major events of this period had on Chloe
The harsh living conditions, product of years of abuse, as well as the persistent bearing of hard labor made Chloe courageous in spirit. She did not foresee any opportunities for regaining her freedom. Her child died five (5) years after being born due to years of challenging existence which was exacerbated by lack of food, illness, and inability to provide holistic support. By the time she was 45 years old, she already contracted several diseases: asthma, chronic respiratory illness, and traces of malnutrition. When she was 50 years old, she was assigned to work on the slaves’ central cookhouse.
e) Historical Perspective
The era when Chloe was brought to Georgia exemplified a period when slavery was in the midst of persistent struggle. There had been brave oppositional efforts that had been advocating for the abolition of slavery. Other instrumental movements and events that exemplified gaining momentum for anti-slavery forces included the election of Abraham Lincoln as President of the United States. In addition, emancipation efforts have started being realized late in 1861, to wit: “the arrival of Union gunboats along the Georgia coast in late 1861 marked the beginning of the end of white ownership of black slaves By fall 1864, however, Union troops led by General William T. Sherman had begun their destructive march from Atlanta to Savannah, a military advance that effectively uprooted the foundations for plantation slavery in Georgia”. For Chloe, however, these courageous efforts were deemed too late. She died of tuberculosis in her bunk bed just a week before the brave march to Savannah.
The long and painful struggle of slaves during this period impacted the way they lived and perceived life, in general. For Chloe, since her deportation to Georgia, she did not live a single day as a free person. As such, all her life, the activities and concerns were mainly undertaken to serve the best interests of her slave-owner. Without any opportunity for education, she never asserted any efforts to fight discrimination and abuse. She remained subservient to those who dominated her, as a female and as a slave. Freedom was only discussed through silent whispers and were predominantly dismissed as a figment of their imagination. She acknowledged that white people would always be the slave-owners and black people as slaves. All her endeavors were pursued to achieve the demands of her slave-owner. She was never allowed to pursue personal interests or even dream of fulfilling personal goals. Chloe’s weakness in physical stamina and emotional bearing was somehow countered with her spiritual strength and faith in God, which she held on to until the day she died.
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http://www.pbs.org/wnet/slavery/timeline/1803.html. (Accessed April 14, 2015)
Paton, Diana. 2007. "Enslaved women and slavery before and after 1807." Institute of Historical Research. http://www.history.ac.uk/ihr/Focus/Slavery/articles/paton.html. (Accessed April 14, 2015).
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