Relationship between slaves and their owners

relationship between slaves and their owners

Study Higher History and learn how financial consideration dominated the interests of those involved in the slave trade. The relationship between slave masters and the slaves who were their lovers can be difficult to fathom. But author Dolen Perkins Valdez takes. Slave women were forced to comply with sexual advances by their masters on a caused tension and hatred between the slave and the mistress of the house.

Well, one of the things that allowed them to go there were the advances in transportation at the time. So they would ride the steamship up the Mississippi River and then veer off onto the Ohio River, and when they got off the ship, they could take the train up to Xenia, Ohio, and that was a new railroad.

It was the Little Miami Railroad. I think when Elias Drake opened the resort, he did not expect that it would become popular among slaveholders and these women, but that was sort of an unintended effect just based on the fact that they were able to get there. How did you first hear about this resort? I first heard about it while reading a biography of W. Du Bois by Dave Levering Lewis called "Biography of a Race," and it was in the section of the book where he talks about the time that Du Bois taught at Wilberforce University, and he said he was talking about the origins of Wilberforce University, and he said that it may have been, and I'm paraphrasing here, the most unusual resort hotel in America because it was popular among slaveholders and their enslaved mistresses.

And I said - what? And I couldn't believe it.

  • 'Wench' Explores Intimate Relationships Between Slaves And Masters
  • Factors governing relations between slaves and their owners

I had never heard of this before. And then he moved on to something else. And so it was sort of just one of those little historical footnotes that I tried to take and imagine what that place would have been like. And was it hard for you to just even delve into this history, some of the things that you learned?

Maybe there were things you hadn't known before.

Relationships between Masters and Slaves: An Overview |

Delving into the history was actually most fascinating for me, finding out, for example, that many of the early students at Wilberforce University were the children of Southern planters. He brought her books. The first word she learned to read and write was she, and it delighted her so much, she wrote it everywhere she could.

She wrote it in the biscuit batter with her spoon.

The duality of Thomas Jefferson

She dug it in the dirt out back with a stick. She sketched it in the steamy windows when it rained. When she pricked her palm with a kitchen knife, she squeezed the skin until she could write her new word out with blood on a scrap of cloth.

relationship between slaves and their owners

She traced the word with her fingers on the smooth parts of his body while they laid together in the storeroom at night.

She was afraid of him, but with each reading lesson she allowed him to take one more step with her. At first he told her he just wanted to touch her tiny breast.

'Wench' Explores Intimate Relationships Between Slaves And Masters : NPR

Then he said he just wanted to place his hand on her hip. At first he asked to touch her; later he did not. Each touch was like a payment for his kindnesses. Of course Lizzie is 13 years old. She's so young and so vulnerable at this point. She really doesn't entirely understand what she's getting into, what price she's going to pay for these moments of kindness.

relationship between slaves and their owners

Right, and I tried to, in that scene in particular, describe how it was a bit of a seduction of her. And later, as we view Lizzie when she's a little bit older or a lot older, we can understand a little bit better why she feels so confused about her feelings about him.

Hes like her father. Hes like a lover. Hes hes so many things to her. Its a very complicated relationship. And I thought it necessary to go back to that original moment in which he seduces her to explain why she feels so confused about the predicament she's in.

Relationships between Masters and Slaves: An Overview

Let me ask you about Mawu, the character of Mawu. This is a woman who is a slave, who unlike the other slaves who have been visiting this resort for a number of years, she realizes that they are in free territory. Conversely, tens of thousands of enslaved blacks took heed of Lord Dunmore's Proclamationwhich offered freedom to slaves who joined Dunmore's army although after his retreat, he resold them back into servitude. The Declaration of Independence itself, silent on slavery's place in the new republic it created, reflected the internal divisions and indecision within the planter class and its northern allies about how best to secure bondpeople to "good and faithful" labor.

Increasingly, worried masters described their human chattel as the "Jacobins of the country," bent on murderous self-liberation. They sought to defeat such schemes through rigorous laws, harsh treatment, and fierce reprisals. Like ruling classes everywhere, however, slaveholders fretted whether the path of safety was one of tighter discipline or of gradual amelioration. When bondpeople in Haiti rose up in bloody—and successful—revolution in the s, the days of the American slaveholding republic looked numbered as well.

As Thomas Jefferson put the problem, Americans held the "wolf" of slavery "by the ears," and seemed unable either to hold it for long or to let it go. Republican fears of creeping tyranny and a seemingly inevitable race war culminated in a two-pronged scheme to restrict slavery politically and geographically, eradicating it across the course of generations.

From tostate and federal lawmakers steadily barred slavery from Western territories and newly admitted states, simultaneously enacting provisions for gradual emancipation of bondpeople in the northern states.

Equally important, they blocked access to fresh importations of Africans by closing the transatlantic slave trade to America after though South Carolinian protests gained their state congressional dispensation to import slaves until Both parts of this strategy were predicated on whites' realistic calculation that the warfare state that existed eternally between masters and slaves could be reined in for a time, but never finally mitigated.

With no more blacks making the Middle Passageslavery's ranks would gradually dwindle—all slave populations had shown a steady tendency to decline over time without fresh imports—, its territory would shrink, and eventually, effortlessly, bondage would disappear from the American republic. The terrible irony was that, across the next three generations, slavery did not die. On the contrary, it exploded, both territorially and demographically.

Jefferson's Louisiana Purchase of vaulted the peculiar institution across the Mississippi River and laid the basis for five decades of sectional controversy. More astounding still, between andthe number of enslaved blacks in the United States did not dwindle—it quadrupled, from 1 to 4 million souls, outpacing the rate of population increase among whites and free blacks both.

The sources of this remarkable, perplexing turn of events remain understudied, but leading slavery scholars to attribute it to changes in the political character of the master-slave relation itself, a shift from the so-called warfare state to what historian Eugene Genovese has called an ideology of paternalism. Paternalism Whereas colonial slavery essentially depended on the ability to beat blacks into submission, paternalism relied upon the political and psychological power of the blow that did not fall.

Pre-revolutionary overlords had been tyrants in the truest sense, accepting—and demonstrating—few or no limits to their terrifying power. For eighteenth-century elites, steady profits and obedient labor, white and black, had provided ethic enough to justify this brutal course of action.

By perhapshowever, Anglo-American ruling classes had increasingly turned toward abstract equations of right, duty, and submission that denied class antagonism between rich and poor, slave and free, and described a harmonious—if rigorous—interaction that pleased God and served all.

There were ethical limits to what overlords and underlings might demand from each other, a paternalist bargain of rewards and punishments, constantly renegotiated, that seized and surrendered measures of freedom in exchange for mites of order and security. In justifying themselves to themselves, however, masters accorded slaves an elevated status and an enlarged sphere of rights and customs.

Blacks were not brutes to be compelled and restrained by vigilance and violence, southerners now declared: They existed interdependently with their overlords, combining their brawn with the master's brain—and heart—to the mutual benefit of all. The slave owed the master faithful labor and due submission under this scheme; the master provided all the gifts of law, material security, moral guidance, and managerial direction.

Just as the bondman might err in a score of ways, including sloth, sauciness, willful obtuseness, or "drapetomania" the supposed tendency of blacks to run awaymasters might wrongly give way to tyrannous passions or an equally egregious spirit of inconsistent leniency. Though never realized in practice, and spelled out only in piecemeal fashion in political, agricultural, and religious documents of the antebellum era, paternalism held both master and man to a doctrine of reciprocal rights and duties.

Paternalism became pervasive especially in the seaboard South and on smaller slaveholding units where such personalism was unavoidable, not simply because of the material prosperity it generated.

Cotton's kingdom made slaveholders incomparably the richest segment of the American ruling class, then or thereafter. It also materially improved the lives of slaves themselves over their colonial counterparts, as far as surviving evidence shows.

relationship between slaves and their owners

Slave houses became more substantial and often larger. Family units grew in size and complexity, marriages were more frequently respected, and many slaves managed to acquire skills, property, and even a smattering of education.

Whites on occasion still betrayed jittery nerves about the possibility of massive slave revolt, but with the passage of time those fears came to seem increasingly unrealistic, not least because nothing more than the most disorganized, localized, and suicidal risings ever took place. The success of paternalism as a political strategy, the failure of blacks to emancipate themselves through violence in the antebellum era, and the improvement of blacks' material lives under antebellum slavery all derive finally from the judicious and unrelenting struggle over the rightful limits of the masters' power.

When planters portrayed themselves as good masters, blacks struggled to hold them to that ideal. In doing so, however, they were compelled to identify with the master, performing in rough outline the characteristics of the good slave.

By a constant work of artifice, negotiation, bluff, and self-deception, masters and slaves struggled for hegemonic control of day-to-day life in the antebellum South. It is inevitable and obvious that this political coupling of love and hate—real, feigned, self-contradictory, and half-realized—created enormous strife, tension, and torment among and between enslaved blacks and enslaving whites.

Historians have done much to ponder—and avoid pondering—just what the master-slave relation cost Americans and how it shaped generations to come. For Ulrich Phillips, a pioneer of modern slavery studies, bondage was usually mild and educative for blacks; it was white masters who were truly liberated by emancipation. Writing forty years later, Kenneth Stampp accentuated the enduring brutality of slavery, suggesting that nothing like a paternalist bargain was ever played out in practical terms.

Indeed, writers such as Stanley Elkins and Willie Lee Rose chimed in, the infantilization Phillips described and the cruelty Stampp discovered were two sides of the same coin: