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.""