Sunday, March 18, 2012

People's History of America

In People's History of America, a collection of primary sources detaling injustice and rebellion in American history, there's a chapter about called: "Slavery without Submission, Emancipation without Freedom." This is actually a really well written, Matt Damon endorsed book. Anyway there is a section on the history of rebellion against slavery. The book describes a number of ways slaves could rebell including "stealing property, sabotage and slowness, killing overseers and masters, burning down plantation buildings, [and] running away." The section also inclused this: "Running away was much more realistic than armed insurrection. During the 1850s about a thousand slaves a year escaped into the North, Canada, and Mexico. Thousands ran away for short periods. And this despite the terror facing the runaway. The dogs used in tracking fugitives "bit, tore, mutilated, and if not pulled off in time, killed their prey," Genovese says. Harriet Tubman, born into slavery, her head injured by an overseer when she was fifteen made her way to freedom alone as a young woman, then became the most famous conductor on the Underground Railroad. She made nineteen dangerous trips back and forth, often disgused, escorting more than three hundred slaves to freedom, always carryong a pistol, telling fugitives, "You'll be free or die." She expressed her philosophy: "There was one of two things I had a right to, liberty or death; if I could not have one, I would ahve the other; for no man should take me alive..." One overseer told a visitor to his plantation that "some negroes are determined never to let a white man whipe them and will resist you when you attempt it; of course you must kill them in that case.""

1 comment:

sara pendleton said...

I need to post again this week... anyway I found a passage about slave marrage in A People's History of America:
"Old letters and records dug out by historiean Herbert Gutman (The Black Family in Slavery and Freedom) show the stubborn resistance of the slave family to pressures of disintegration. A Woman wrote to her son from whom she had been seperated for twenty years: "I long to see you in my old age... Now my dear son I pray you come and see your dear old Mother... I love you Cato you love your Mother - You are my only son..." And a man wrote to his wife, sold away from him with their children: "send me some of the children's hair in a separate paper with their names on the paper... I had rather anything to had happend to me most then ever to have been parted form you and the children... Laura I do love you the same..." Going through records of slave marriages, Gutman found how high was the incidence of marrage amonge slave men and women, and how stable these marriages were. He studied the remarkably complete records kept on one South Carolina plantation. He found a birth register of two hundered slaves extended from the eighteenth century to just before the Civil War; it showed stable kin networks, steadfast marriages, unusual fidelity, and reisitance to forced marriages. Slaves hung determinedly to their selves, to their love of family, their wholeness."