Slave Essays

What to the Slave Is the Fourth of July_

In addressing the meaning of Independence Day to African American slaves, Frederick Douglass composed a response which offers a brilliant mix of vitriolic condemnation and keen, documented evidence. The target of Douglass’ impassioned eloquence is American hypocrisy and social injustice; the object of the speech and pamphlet is to challenge what Douglass regards as instutionalized and socially endemic racism, which he also regards as a spiritual crime: “To drag a man in fetters into the grand illuminated temple of liberty,…

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A Runaway Slave on the Underground Railroad

The heat here is terrible. Sticky, thick heat that sticks to your skin and clothes and makes it hard to breathe. The mosquitoes only make it worse. They don’t even wait for nightfall to come out anymore, but buzz around all day and torment us out in the cotton fields. I’ve got welts from their bites all up and down my arms and legs, and I’m afraid it won’t be long before there’s a yellow fever epidemic. As you know,…

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Black Slave Owners in the South

As with the accounts by Nichols (1863), when people think of the slavery period in American history, it is normally assumed that the slave owner was white and the slave black. This was true in many cases but the number of free black slave owners was actually higher than most people realize. Black slave owner usually treated family members and friends much better than the other slaves they might own. But even being a family member did not raise the…

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