Jan 9, 2019 in Analysis

African-American Female Slaves Essay

Introduction

African-American slavery started in the early years of colonial period. During late seventeenth century, American factory owners imported thousands of African people for slavery works. In this period, Africans encountered various challenges to live a normal life. In eighteenth century the numbers of slaves were increased rapidly. Experts believe that African-American women faced various issues in that time because they became the victims of both sexism and racism. However, the slavery laws ended in 1865. The 13th Amendment of the U.S. constitution helped slave labors to get their rights. These laws were abolished in the U.S. and the bordering states including Kentucky. In addition, antislavery laws guided Indian tribes to become a part of peace treaties after war (Edwards). The following paper analyses the experiences of female slaves before and after the movement. In addition, it describes the laws that freed them from slavery. 

Experiences of African Female Slaves 

According to a study, American rulers imported about 43,700 slaves to Virginia in between 1700 and 1741. Among these labors, 4,000 African people were directly imported from African countries (Grabow). Research shows that the American masters imported a high number of women and children from West Africa. Moreover, history reports define that American masters faced various issues to regulate slave women because they followed prevalent African cultures. Also, the African culture showed strong bonds between the children and mother. For example, the Igbo community women take care of a wide variety of domestic issues in Nigeria. Hence, these community women represented their strong cultural values in America. Moreover, the scholars believe that African slave women came from diverse communities with strong cultural values, but they were forced to live in a society with violent and racist behavior. Especially, the white men characterized African women as passionately sexual to fulfill their abuses and desires. In Virginia, most of the black were not allowed to receive education, and they were involved in various slavery positions. The young female slaves worked in domestic sphere including planting, nursing, laundering, childcare homes and other field works (Edwards). Besides, during Revolutionary War, the African female slaves were sold secretly to other owners when they became worthless for works. Often, slaves ran away or committed suicide to get relief from hard life. In some conditions, the white owners forced female workers to have sexual relationships with various men to create forceful breeding. Also, some slave women were raped and impregnated by the owners. The historical records and other reports show that the African women faced severe pains and challenges to live their regular lives in past centuries. One of the African slave women, Anita Ross from Virginia wrote about her slavery life in her diary (ErinC). According to Anita, she received that diary from her master’s son, when she was 13 years old. She wrote the following sentences in her diary on 12th March 1849: 

I have been thinking a lot of my escape. I am worried that somewhere along the way, I will be caught, and sent back to my Master. I do not want this. Going back would mean a severe beating, and my back would be even more marked up than it already is. No, I need to have this planned out carefully before I leave. I will travel only at night, and hide during the day. I must make no mistakes. My future is at stake. (ErinC)

Slavery in New England

The famous historian, Ira Berlin considers that the New England region of the United States had greater opportunities for the female slaves. The region had small slave population. The New England legal system granted more facilities and freedoms for slave women. The state laws protected, cared and guided the labors. Most of the slaves were responsible for maritime trades and agricultural development. Also, the legal system provided hiring out and manumission procedures that helped labors to get an independent life (Edwards). 

 

The enslaved women were hired to do the women’s works, such as in the kitchen, garden and house maid works. Moreover, they involved in the servile and menial activities. Especially, they worked as sweeper, cleaner and helper to perform domestic chores. In addition, house maids were responsible for various household works, such as washing the dishes, milking the cows, laundering, feeding domestic animals and looking after the young children. Ira Berlin claims that the New England female slaves did not have forceful life comparing to the other U.S. states. However, they worked hard to get food (Grabow). Research shows that the average enslaved women lived till forty because they had a hard working life with poor housing conditions and inadequate diets. Furthermore, the white communities created some traditions to gift enslaved women as Christmas or wedding gifts. The historical studies show that the New England masters treated their slaves with greater kindness comparing to the other States in the U.S. (Grabow ).

Slavery in Southern Colonies

Studies show that the slave labors faced the most severe challenges in Southern colonies. Most of female slaves endured complex and demanding lives in that region. Especially, the Southern colony was highly dependent on slave labors. They had a large slave community, which was controlled by the white masters without emotions. The region was economically, politically and socially dependent on African labors. Therefore, the masters forced the workers to do extremely hard works to get economic benefits. Often, the masters did not follow the labors’ laws. Moreover, the Southern male and female labors worked primarily in agricultural farms. They worked in the plantation and growing of tobacco, flour rice and indigo. Also, the cotton became the major crop for industrial production (Grabow). 

Besides, the slave women worked in various settings. They had harder lives than male slaves. Most of the women worked in fields and spent time with children. Childcare was a part of their work because the masters wanted to increase the slave population. Studies show that the female slave population increased naturally instead of importation. Moreover, after few years of slave labor trend, the masters understood that the reproductive functions of female slaves increase the profits in slave markets. Hence, they manipulated or forced slave women to have sexual relations with different male labors. Often, these labor women raised their children with various difficulties and without male support or assistance. In addition, women had various domestic roles in the masters’ house including sewing, polishing metals and household ornaments, etc. Before American Revolution, the white masters demanded the slave women to do various works in fields and later in manufacturing factories. One of the slave women’s, Sojourner Truth is famous for her speech “Ain’t I a Woman?” She gained freedom from slavery in 1827 and became famous as anti-slavery speaker. Truth’s speech was published in newspaper on June 21st, 1853 (Fordham University). She added the following sentences in her speech: 

That man over there says that women need to be helped into carriages, and lifted over ditches, and to have the best place everywhere. Nobody ever helps me into carriages, or over mud-puddles, or gives me any best place! And ain't I a woman? Look at me! Look at my arm! I have ploughed and planted, and gathered into barns, and no man could head me! And ain't I a woman? I could work as much and eat as much as a man - when I could get it - and bear the lash as well! And ain't I a woman? (Fordham University)

Sojourner Truth’s speech describes the pain and the agonies of African slave women. It defines cruel and immoral behaviors of American masters. Truth added that she had not received any traditional gentlemanly behavior from her masters during the slavery period. Also, she complained that the American woman’s right convention did not help slave women to get their fundamental rights. Truth regretted that she had thirteen children and most of them were sold by her masters in slave labor trades (Grabow).

Revolutionary Era

American Revolutionary era lasted from 1775 to 1783. During this period, the female slave labors worked various government and domestic settings. They worked in government military forces, cooks, nursing staffs, and laundresses. Historian Carol Berkin wrote in her book, “Revolutionary Mothers” that African women’s loyalties created their future to have an independent life. They worked hard in army camps, war construction sites, roads and hospital settings to offer services to the wounded armies. However, they remained slaves and white masters hired them to do complex works. Moreover, enslaved women worked in shops, fields and plantation farms of various American colonies (Fordham University). Statics show that till 1770, more than 47,500 African slaves worked in Northern colonies and about 21,000 labors served in New York. Also, studies show that the majority of slaves worked in Chesapeake colonies (Grabow). 

After the Revolutionary War, African male slaves got opportunities to escape slavery by joining army. However, female workers did not get enough opportunities to run away because some of them were pregnant women and nurses. In addition, some others were the single mothers, who nursed their children, elderly relatives and friends. In South Carolina, thousands of labors escaped from plantations. As a result, the remaining slave labors had severe workloads. Some factories could not produce enough food. Hence, African slaves were suffered from huger and starvation. After war, the British government granted freedom for 1000 slave women as a reward for their hard work in the revolution. However, they canceled the rewards through violence and trickery laws. Moreover, some women won their freedom, but they became the victims of racial inequalities, poverty and discrimination. During war, soldiers captured various plantations and sold enslaved women for their own profits. Furthermore, British government helped workers to get independence by evacuating them along with the military forces. In addition, they created new colonies for poor black people (Edwards). 

Moreover, some brave and revolutionary slave women raised their voices to get freedom. For example, Phillis Wheatley was a slave for many years. She raised her voice against slavery, when she got freedom. Wheatley wrote various poems that influence people to get equal rights for black communities. Most of her poems illustrate that Africans have similar rights as Europeans because all people are the children of God. Hence, black people should deserve freedom from slavery. These poems and speeches influenced some political leaders. As a result, in 1777, Vermont state government drafted a new constitution that prohibited slavery. In addition, in 1780 some American states declared slavery as unconstitutional. The new bill of right states that all American are free and they should have equal rights. Furthermore, the African slave, Quock Walker established the new petition, the freedom suit. This petition helped Africans to get relief from slavery in Massachusetts. Also, the new freedom suit guided slave labors to protest against the slavery works in other states of the U.S. (Grabow).   

Antebellum Period

Experts and historians believe that African slave women had the least formal power in American society because the black men were ruled by white society. On the other hand, black women were controlled by their husbands or other black men. However, historians consider that African women have strong bonds with their children. Hence, they fought for their children’s rights. Often, young slave girls were used as domestic worker in North America and they provided household helps. White families considered slave girls to be all-purpose tool. Therefore, they preferred to hire slave women without children. Most of the slave girls were quite young and were in between the age of eight to fifteen. White families bought such girls because they cost less. Moreover, they had high potentials to work for long hours. In Antebellum period, black women were the necessary part of white families’ life. They were the essential source of help for high, middle, urban and rural class of white Americans (Edwards). 

After American Revolution, American factory owners imported a large number of slaves from African countries. Especially, the Southern plantation farms and industries needed more labors to get high profits. Therefore, the factory owners imported labors till 1807. Moreover, the young African girls were forced to work in early age compared to the boys. Many of them started to work in fields before age seven. Also, some owners created dual burdens to the women. They became the victims of sexism and racism. Furthermore, the masters made specific rules that prohibited black women to defend themselves against different abuses, including physical moral and sexual harassments. Thus, the white society harassed the female African slaves before and after the movement (Grabow).

Freedom from Slavery 

The U.S. government abolished slavery works in 1865. The American president, Abraham Lincoln issued an executive order against slavery in January 1, 1863. The new presidential statement helped 3 million slaves to get freedom from slavery life. In addition, the U.S. senate passed 13th Amendment in April, 1864. According to the new constitutional right, the American government considered slavery as a crime and banned several charges. The new law forbade the white supremacist forces and violence, involuntary labor services, racial discriminations and other forceful activities against black American communities. In addition, the 14th Amendment was adopted in the U.S. in July, 1868. The new act provided equal rights and protections to all American citizens. Also, the law offered equal liberty and other rights. Furthermore, the 15th Amendment allowed all Americans to vote in elections. This Amendment provided equal civil rights for all colored races (Grabow).   

Moreover, in 1875, the U.S. government banned racial discrimination in public places including railroad cars, hotels and pubs, parks and theatres. Furthermore, in 1939, the U.S. government created Civil Rights Section, which showed special interest in labor rights. The new acts considered slavery as a crime and punished people who hired slave labors. The act became more popular in 1947 because Elizabeth Ingalls was prosecuted for keeping an illegal domestic servant. Furthermore, in recent decades African-Americans faced racial challenges and they protest against it to get justice. For example, in 1968 St. Louis subdivision did not want to sell a house to Joseph Jones, because he was from the African background. Jones complained this issue to the legal right authority. As a result, in 1982 the court granted equal property rights for all Americans (Edwards). 

The new Amendments and constitutional rights helped African-Americans to develop their lives. Most of the slaves started a new life with equal voting and other civil rights. Also, the new legislation provided the black safe accommodation, property rights and a healthy way of life. Moreover, the new acts helped African-American students to attend schools and develop their futures. Furthermore, the government laws allowed African-American talented people to join official services. Besides, some of the African women continued their nursing and hospitality works for reasonable wages and salaries. On the other hand, some women started to have a normal house-wife’s life. Thus, African-American women developed their lives after slavery (Edwards). 

Conclusion

In conclusion, African-American slavery created various physical, mental and ethical issues to the labors. Initially, it was started in seventeenth century and continued for long time. During this period, American plantation and factory owners imported a large number of African people to various American states to perform various slavery works. Thousands of slaves were imported to Virginia, New York, New England and other renowned states of the U.S. The American masters used these African labors in various settings. Especially, they created challenging lives for female slave labors. Most of the young African women were forced to work in domestic works, such cleaning, washing, laundering and childcare. Besides, some of them were forced to work in fields with men. The masters and owners did not show any sympathy for slave women. Often, they were asked to work in early age. In addition, some owners forced females to involve in sexual relations. Moreover, in Revolutionary War, African-American women played great roles by working as nurses and construction workers. They worked hard to improve the economic conditions of the United States, but they did not get a free life. However, in 1865, American president, Abraham Lincoln banned slavery. Especially, the 13th, 14th and the 15th Amendment helped slave labors to get their civil rights. Thus, African-American people got relief from slavery.       

 

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