MORE STUDENT REPLY
Please also respond to the following classmates. initial posts and bring together pieces of the discussion and take those ideas further. These responses should be at least 150 words.
Every nation has had its share of history that the people are not proud of. Slavery was abolished over 100 years ago. At the time of the trade it was very profitable for the traders and for plantation owners. The American Civil War was partially caused by slavery, as the war ended slavery was abolished by the United States Congress on December 6, 1865. In “Uncle Tom’s Cabin” Augustine St. Clare believed that slavery is worse for the master because it had a negative impact on them. There were some slave owners that actually took care of their slaves but the human factor played in their minds. For the money and profits the master were pro slavery but for the inhumane treatment some were not too comfortable with it. There was a concept of the slaves being better off with the masters, this concept was made after slavery was abolished. After the passing of the 13th Amendment the Emancipation Proclamation came about which allowed slaves to be paid for their work. Many believed the slaves should have stayed with the master because most of them were uneducated, didn’t know what to do with money, starting a life would have been difficult. Some former slaves stayed on plantations and worked in exchange for food and clothes.
From the book “Incidents in the Life of a Slave Girl” Harriet Jacobs described life of a slave girl that dealt with real life issues. Linda Brent faced issues concerning her children and being sold off to other slave owners. Children that were born into faced the possibility of being sold off because it was profitable and they belong to the masters. As Linda Brent gained freedom she faced the unknown of being in the world with her children. The women in the North did not understand the brutality for women in the South especially slaves, women in the South constantly faced sexual abuse. Girls were forced to commit sexual acts and becoming pregnant as a result of the abuse. The physical abuse was sometimes unbearable for Dr. Flint “When Dr. Flint learned that I was again to be a mother, he was exasperated beyond measure. He rushed from the house, and returned with a pair of shears. I had a fine head of hair; and he often railed about my pride of arranging it nicely. He cut every hair close to my head, storming and swearing all the time. I replied to some of his abuse, and he struck me. Some months before, he had pitched me down stairs in a fit of passion; and the injury I received was so serious that I was unable to turn myself in bed for many days. He then said, “Linda, I swear by God I will never raise my hand against you again;” but I knew that he would forget his promise.” Linda and the rest of the slave girls showed strength in order to survive.
“Harriet Ann Jacobs.Incidents in the Life of a Slavegirl.” Harriet Ann Jacobs.Incidents in the Life of a Slavegirl. N.p., 2003. Web. 14 June 2016.
Professor and fellow classmates,
Uncle Tom’s Cabin, authored by Harriet Beecher Stowe, was written during an era in which slavery was both socially and politically accepted although some did feel that it was unethical and not morally right to own an individual as property. And some slave holders believed that as long as their slaves were taken care of, fed, housed, and not abused, that their conscious was clear. The main character in Uncle Tom’s Cabin, Uncle Tom, is sold a few different times and the personal connection between the slave holders and Uncle Tom is where the notion that slavery is worse for the master than the slave comes from. For example, in Chapter VII, when Mr. and Mrs. Shelby first sell Uncle Tom as a resolution for debt, they both felt annoyed and degraded with the new owner because although they realize that slavery breaks up the home and family, it was a necessity that had to be done. Mr. Shelby tells Tom to mind himself for the new master and Toms’ question of “now I jist ask you, Mas’r, have I ever broke word to you, or gone contrary to you, ’specially since I was a Christian?”, brought tears to Mr. Shelby’s eyes (385). Further evidence to support this notion is in Chapter XIX of Uncle Tom’s Cabin. In this chapter, St. Clare and Miss Ophelia are discussing the injustices of slavery yet offer no solutions to the problem. Although St. Clare was raised to value the people that served him as individuals rather than slaves (391), he did not let his slaves go but instead, “[had] them to help spend money … [so as to not] … look quite so ugly to [the owning of slaves] … (393). Furthermore, St. Clare states that “we all know better” (392) and that “[he finds] many men who, in their hearts, think of it just as [he does]. The land groans under it; and, bad as it is for the slave, it is worse, if anything, for the master” (394) because the aristocrats and capitalist of England “do not mingle with the class they degrade as we do. They are in our houses; they are the associates of our children, and they form their minds faster than we can; for they are a race that children always will cling to and assimilate with”(394). “But it’s no apology for slavery, to prove it is n’t worse than some other bad thing” (392). Slave holders such as St. Clare and Miss Ophelia are aware of the immoralities of the slave system, but still practice owning other humans. Lastly, when Uncle Tom was beaten by his master Legree in Chapter XL, there was only a small notionthat slavery is worse for the master than the slave and that was in the moment before a “hesitating pause,—one irresolute, relenting thrill,—and the spirit of evil came back, with sevenfold vehemence; and Legree, foaming with rage, smote his victim to the ground” (396). However right before that, “Legree stood aghast, and looked at Tom; and there was such a silence that the tick of the old clock could be heard, measuring, with silent touch, the last moments of mercy and probation to that hardened heart (396)” because Uncle Tom said “Do the worst you can, my troubles’ll be over soon; but if ye don’t repent yours won’t neverend” (396)! Legree understands the immorality of beating Uncle Tom but still continues to do it. In essence, the slave holders, as well as the slave, are supported in Stowes’Uncle Tom’s Cabin as being both victims to the slave system.
There were quite a few struggles that Linda Brent faced within “Incidents in a Life of a Slave Girl” written by Harriet Jacobs. Although Linda was not severely beaten or worked to death, she was often sexually harassed and verbally abused by her master Dr. Flint, endured abuses from her masters jealous wife, lost her virtues/purities while being held to a higher standard than what she was allowed to live up to, and was in constant fear concerning the wellbeing of her children. Linda’s situation was (unfortunately) typical of young southern slave girls who worked for masters in the 1800’s. For example, Linda’s master reminded her at 15 that she “was his property … [and that she was subjected] … to his will in all things” (Perkins 404). And at times her master threaten her with death, she still had hopes “of somehow getting out of his clutches” (Jacobs 406). Linda Brent also has to deal with the abuses of a jealous wife in that when Mrs. Flint cross-examined Linda about the sleeping arrangements’ with Dr. Flint, not only did Mrs. Flint feel that “her marriage vows were desecrated, her dignity insulted” … [but] … she pitied herself as a martyr; but she was incapable of feeling for the condition of shame and misery in which her unfortunate, helpless slave was placed” (408). Furthermore, Linda could not choose a love or better yet, marry for it. Instead she had to enter into a sexual relationship with a white attorney, who later fathered her two children, and promised Linda to buy them from Dr. Flint (Perkins 404). Linda’s statement that she “would ten thousand times rather that my children should be the half-starved paupers of Ireland than to be the most pampered among the slaves of America” (Jacobs 406) shows her concern for her children. This comes from the hard truths that children of slaves were considered to be the legal property of their mothers’ masters (Perkins 404). Linda eventually overcame the struggles she endured as a slave and was once again reunited with her children when she escaped to the North in 1842 (Perkins 405). While many slaves were treated in ways beyond comparison, the prejudices of women is often forgotten or over looked, especially in this era. “Give me Liberty, or give me death” (Jacobs 413).
Jacobs, Harriet. From ”Incidents in the Life of a Slave Girl; VI: The Jealous Mistress.”The American Tradition in Literature. Vol. 2, 12th ed. Eds. George Perkins and Barbara Perkins. Boston: McGraw Hill. Pgs. 406-410 Vital Bookshelf.
Jacobs, Harriet. From ”Incidents in the Life of a Slave Girl; XVIII: Months of Peril.”The American Tradition in Literature. Vol. 2, 12th ed. Eds. George Perkins and Barbara Perkins. Boston: McGraw Hill. Pgs. 410-412 Vital Bookshelf.
Perkins, George, and Barbara Perkins. The American Tradition in Literature, Volume 2. 12th ed. Boston: McGraw-Hill. Pgs. 404-05 Vital Bookshelf.
Stowe, Harriet Beecher. From Uncle Tom’s Cabin; Chapter VII: The Mother’s Struggle. The American Tradition in Literature. Vol. 2, 12th ed. Eds. George Perkins and Barbara Perkins. Boston: McGraw Hill. Pgs. 381-390 Vital Bookshelf.
Stowe, Harriet Beecher. From Uncle Tom’s Cabin; Chapter XIX: Miss Opehlia’s Experiences and Opinions, Continued. The American Tradition in Literature. Vol. 2, 12th ed. Eds. George Perkins and Barbara Perkins. Boston: McGraw Hill. Pgs. 391-396 Vital Bookshelf.
Stowe, Harriet Beecher. From Uncle Tom’s Cabin; Chapter XL: The Martyr. The American Tradition in Literature. Vol. 2, 12th ed. Eds. George Perkins and Barbara Perkins. Boston: McGraw Hill. Pgs. 395-397 Vital Bookshelf.
Augustine St Clare, shares his opinion about slavery based on his status and history as a slave owner. He is able to draw a comparison between slaves in America and workers in England. He does not disagree that it is bad for the slave but in his opinion he has the entire management cycle of his “property”. This to him is most bothersome. I don’t doubt that he appreciates the work that they do for him and the profit he makes as a result of this. He has never had to work a hard day’s labor ever in his life due to his status. At that time it would be an acceptable notion to be bothered by having to manage your working population on the farm, in the South. I think I would be aligned to how the northerners at the time treated African Americans. They are just as important to society and want to make a valuable contribution.
“Sometimes I so openly expressed my contempt for him that he would become violently enraged, and I wondered why he did not strike me.”(Jacobs.406) Linda Brent faced many challenges with both Mr. and Mrs. Flint. Mr. Flint was prone to fits of rage at a moment’s notice. For a slave that could be absolutely terrifying. Mrs. Flint was extremely jealous of the affection that Mr. Flint showed towards Linda. “I had entered my sixteenth year, and every day it became more apparent that my presence was intolerable to Mrs. Flint. Angry words frequently passed between her and her husband.”(Jacobs.407) She was constantly subjected to public accusations of the crimes of her master. As if she was the one fabricating lies. It seemed that a no point did she have a consistent read on her masters. To me that would have been the most unnerving thing.
Jacobs, Harriet. “Incidents in the Life of a Slave Girl”American Lit before the Civil War. Ed. George Perkins. Boston: McGraw Hill. McGraw-Hill Learning Solutions, 10/2014. VitalSource Bookshelf Online
The notion that slavery benefits the slave more than the master is a genius of a public relations gambit. If ever in a position where I need to sell a product I want a marketing firm with the same vigor and cunning as the person or persons who spawned this idea. That being said, it certainly took at out of touch and surely less than moral thinking to believe this to be true.
While he despises the practice of slavery for profit, Augustine begins to show this odd notion of a positive side of slavery being good for the slave. While speaking of his brother he admits “his slaves are better off than a large class of the population of England” (Stowe 393). In this we see him essentially telling Miss Ophelia that while slavery is bad, it could be worse for the slaves.
We see deeper evidence buried in Augustine’s talk of how “the capitalist and aristocrat of England” (Stowe 394) “do not mingle with the class they degrade as we do” (Stowe 394). Augustine is essentially saying that because slaves are allowed to have contact of all sorts with the masters their lives are being bettered. This is to the detriment of the masters as it will eventually lead to the slaves being freed or rising up to gain their freedom.
Our poor slave girl faces many perils and challenges in this story. We are introduced in the very beginning to the underlying and most sinister of them. Our heroine is forced to walk a fine line with her master. She must keep him, and his nefarious advances, at arms length without alienating him so much as to fall completely out of favor. His advances are evidenced by the notes that were “often slipped into my hand” (Jacobs 406). She fends him off by saying “I can’t read them, sir’ (Jacobs 406). While not strictly stated it is apparent these notes contain somewhat suggestive topics. Playing the part of the rock to the master’s hard place is the mistress. The mistress presents another challenge as the young slave is seen as a challenge to the Mr. and Mrs. Flint’s marriage. This precarious position puts her in constant turmoil as she tries to please both without giving either cause to punish or cast her out of the house.
This brings us to the most obvious challenge our poor Slave Girl faces. This is a choice of staying or escaping her master’s home and leaving her children behind, unable to protect them. That she chooses to flee says a great deal about the severity of the situation she is facing.
Stowe, Harriet. “Uncle Tom’s Cabin” American Lit before the Civil War. Ed. George Perkins. Boston: McGraw Hill. McGraw-Hill Learning Solutions, 10/2014. VitalSource Bookshelf Online
Jacobs, Harriet. “Incidents in the Life of a Slave Girl” American Lit before the Civil War. Ed. George Perkins. Boston: McGraw Hill. McGraw-Hill Learning Solutions, 10/2014. VitalSource Bookshelf Online