Essay on Examination of the Slave Experience

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Examination of the Slave Experience

Most African Americans of the early to mid-nineteenth century experienced slavery on plantations similar to the experiences described by Frederick Douglass; the majority of slaves lived on units owned by planters who had twenty or more slaves. The planters and the white masters of these agrarian communities sought to ensure their personal safety and the profitability of their enterprises by using all the tactics-physical and psychological-at their command to make slaves obedient. Even Christianity was manipulated in a way that masters communicated to their slaves that God had commanded them to obey their masters. Hence, by word and deed whites tried to convince blacks that they had been ordained
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The more I read the more I was led to abhor and detest my enslavers." (pg. 61) The knowledge which Frederick Douglass gained, did not free him from his horrible situation, but rather compounded his discontentment as a slave. It is hard to determine how other slaves were able to maintain a sense of individuality and worth, despite not having the opportunity or possess the resourcefulness to obtain the knowledge of Frederick Douglass.
Nevertheless, most slaves had established and participated in a subculture separate from any other in the United States at that time. One might argue that it was from the realm of this subculture and fundamental beliefs, derived from the horrible experiences of slavery, that provided African Americans the strength necessary to hold their heads high and look beyond their immediate condition. Religion was the essence of the newly emerging African American subculture. Borrowed from the fiery revivalism of white participants of the first Great Awakening and their own African religions, slaves created their own version of Christianity. Miraculously, they broke away from the teachings that their white masters had bestowed upon them, which taught them that blacks were commanded by God to obey their superior white masters. Instead they developed beliefs that

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