Slave Brutality From Their Masters Critical Thinking Samples
Slavery began in 1619 in the Jamestown, Virginia, at the time as a colony of North America (History.com par 1). The slaves were to assist in the production of lucrative crops such as tobacco. The first slaves were the Africans who continued to stream in the country during the 17th and 18th centuries. They played a major role in advancing the American’s economy through their forced effort. After the exhaustion of land through the continuous cultivation of tobacco, the farmers turned to cotton, which was at a steady growth across the globe. The job proved fatal for slaves, as it required more labor to meet the targets effectively. The white farmers had to use force and brutality on their slaves to make them work more and fear them. They developed slave codes that and laws that will ensure they depend on them for everything (History.com par 2). The main aim is to make their lives hopeless without their effort. However, the hardships made the slaves stronger and determined in making a change in the end. Frederick Douglass’s life revolves around events that show a glimpse of the brutality that happened during the time, its extent and how important freedom was to them.
Frederick meets his first brutality scenario when he sets eyes on the world. From the rumors he heard around, his father was a master (Douglass pg 1). A master was the owner of the farm, and most of them would prey on slave women for sexual satisfaction. However, sometimes the women would get pregnant and bore them children, who were later sent to other farms once they reach 12 months (Douglass pg 2). Slave women faced brutality from both the master and lady of the house. Apart from sexual satisfaction, the masters would beat up the women who refused his advance or those that threatened to tell the lady of the house. However, the lady of the house showed no sympathy to any attractive slave woman. She would ensure they do the hardest jobs on the farm to ensure they do not meet with the masters. The mother was kept away from her child so that she can get back to working and not bother much on the child’s upkeep.
The harsh reality of slavery meets him after being separated from his mother. Slavery has no retirement age. The older slavery women would take care of the young children till they attained the age of working; around seven years (Douglass pg. 2). Most of the old people were worn out from the many working years and had no strength left to continue working. Instead of their masters setting them free, they gave them the small work in the house of running errands and cooking. However, Frederick was in a position to see his mother a couple of times before her death. He was not in a position to visit her when she was sick or during her burial. Even in the harsh times, his mother managed to walk 12 miles to see her son and make it to the farm before the masters woke up (Douglass pg 3). Slaves only knew one way of retiring, death, as it ensured they will never work for their masters again. Most of the slaves succumbed to death through beatings, sickness or opposing the whites.
As a young child working for a master, the author comes face to face with the brutal beating of slaves; both male and female (Douglass pg 26). Regardless of the age or status, every slave got an equal measure of harshness and treatment from their masters. All the slaves slept on the cold floor with a mere blanket to cover themselves with. The treatment goes throughout the year, and it was worse during the winter since most of the slaves would succumb to illnesses. The situation did not bother the masters of the house because they knew where to get a replacement. The masters had no respect for humanity, mostly the slaves because they cared more about their profits. Though the slaves had to live under such conditions, they were in a position to wake up and work the following morning.
Unlike other slaves, Frederick was in a position to learn how to read and write (Douglass pg 33). The masters ensured the slaves remained uneducated so that they remain ignorant. They wanted to keep them in the farms and shield them away from understanding the laws that govern them. Hugh Auld, Frederick’s master, halts his education given to him by the lady of the house citing that he might make him unfit as a slave. The statement proved true as Frederick gained knowledge on various topics that revolved around slavery. Frederick’s determination to read lead him to trade his bread for books and lessons from hungry white children (Douglass pg 34).
At the age of fifteen, Frederick goes back to the plantations to work for Mr. Hugh’s brother, Thomas. He was a ship captain and through his new master, he got back to harsh conditions of slaves; a life he thought was forever gone (Douglass pg 56). However, he tries to resist slavery aggressive irrespective of the harsh treatment. The situation depicts the punishment slaves got for opposing their masters. Thomas finds Frederick too stubborn for him and transfers him to Edward Covey, who has a reputation of straightening retaliating slaves. The year that follows sees Frederick beaten up, recaptured after several failed escape attempts and a final battle with Covey. He transfers to William Freeland’s farm where his desire for freedom increases by the day (Douglass 65). Frederick recounts one of his escapes and expresses the great feeling that overcame him with his success. In his words, he felt as if he just escaped the lion’s den and was free to roam the world.
Slavery took some time before its abolition in the United States since the whites were not up for the idea. They move will render their business pointless, as they will not have command over the African Americans as masters. Modern day slavery still continues but in different forms such as child trafficking, bondage labor, forced labor, sexual exploitation, domestic servitude (Everywhere in (supply) chains par 1). Child trafficking happens across the globe. Children from third world continents like Asia and Africa go to other countries under the adoption umbrella only for them to change to slaves. Bondage labor is a common occurrence in countries, such as India, where victims work tirelessly to repay loans that they cannot settle any time in the future. Moreover, owing to the huge availability of cheap labor, the wages paid are usually too low to make a significant contribution towards loan repayment, leave alone sustenance of livelihoods. In some cases, the children take over the children debts of their parents and guardians when they fail to repay and are either too old to work anymore, or have died and their debtors insist on completion of their initial agreements. Elsewhere, forced labor often occurs to house servants where they work long hours under harsh conditions with very little or no pay. Moreover, despite civilization that is thought to exist in modern workplaces, such as offices and hospitals, slavery is still continues. In these scenarios, workers are usually subjected to hard jobs that hardly have any sustainable returns.
Modern slavery proves fatal than the early slavery as it happens in people’s day-to-day lives. The phenomenon appears to happen silently, and usually goes unnoticed owing to its nature for exploitation. People work extra hard to try to cope with the economy and lack to reason out whether their employees are exploiting them. Agencies that try to fight the criminals have a hard time since the traffickers have links with important people in the government. Apart from that, the society does not see it as slavery because they compare it with what they know as slavery. Slavery is a major catastrophe to humankind and chances of it ending are minimal unless people realize its effects. Availability of cheap affordable labor, owing to high population rates, is a major factor that influences modern slavery.
Douglass, Frederick. Narrative of the Life of Frederick Douglass An American Slave. 1845. PDF. 13 April 2015. <http://www.ibiblio.org/ebooks/Douglass/Narrative/Douglass_Narrative.pdf>
Everywhere in (supply) chains. 14 March 2015. Web. 13 April 2015. < http://www.economist.com/news/international/21646199-how-reduce-bonded-labour-and-human-trafficking-everywhere-supply-chains>
History.com, Staff. Slavery in America. 2009. Web. 13 April 2015. <http://www.history.com/topics/black-history/slavery>
Horn, Patrick E. Narrative of the Life of Frederick Douglass, an American Slave. Written by Himself: Summary. 2004. Web. 15 April 2015. <http://docsouth.unc.edu/neh/douglass/summary.html>
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