The Longest Memory Background


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The Longest Memory Background

  1. 1. Slavery in America 1619 – 1865
  2. 2. The Southern States <ul><li>When we speak of the American south in relation to The Longest Memory , we are not referring to the continent of South America. Rather to the Southern states within North America (these are in red.) Some of the abbreviated Southern state names you will be familiar with are state names such as – Texas, Alabama, Virginia, Carolina, Tennessee and Kentucky. </li></ul><ul><li>The first slave from Africa, arrived in America in 1619. </li></ul>
  3. 3. Most slaves came from the west coast of Africa, so many in fact, that this area was referred to by Europeans as the Slave Coast. The slave coast stretches along modern day Nigeria, Ghana, Senegal, Benin, The Gambia, Congo, Gabon and Angola.
  4. 4. No one knows the exact number of slaves that were taken from Africa. Philip Curtin in 1969 calculated that about 10 million slaves were taken from Africa. Many Historians refer to this as the Black Holocaust. It is a tragedy for Africa that few still know little about.
  5. 5. Conditions on board the slave vessels in the trip across the Atlantic were appalling. 2 in 10 Africans died in the voyage over.
  6. 6. What was the voyage like? Olaudah Equiano tells… <ul><li>Olaudah Equiano was born around 1745 in the village of Essaka in the interior of today's eastern Nigeria. He was kidnapped at the age of ten, taken to the West Indies and then sold to a Virginia planter. </li></ul><ul><li>He was later bought by a British naval Officer, Captain Pascal, as a present for his cousins in London. </li></ul><ul><li>After ten years of enslavement throughout the North American continent, where he assisted his merchant slave master and worked as a seaman, Equiano bought his freedom. </li></ul>
  7. 7. <ul><li>Olaudah Equiano is important to history and our knowledge of the slave trade as he wrote the first-ever slave autobiography as a freed slave living in England. His autobiography, The Life of Gustavus Vassa (Gustavus Vassa was one of the names given to him by his owners), became a phenomenal best-seller in its time, both in England and America, and fuelled a young but growing anti-slavery movement. </li></ul><ul><li>Read the extract on the next page from his autobiography as he recounts what it was like to be kidnapped by slavers. </li></ul>
  8. 8. <ul><li>The first object which saluted my eyes when I arrived on the coast was a slave ship, which was waiting for its cargo. This filled me with astonishment, which was soon converted into terror, when I was carried on board. I was immediately handled, and tossed up to see if I were sound, by some of the crew; and I was now persuaded that I had gotten into a world of bad spirits, and that they were going to kill me. Their complexions, too, differing so much from ours, their long hair, and the language they spoke, (which was very different from any I had ever heard) united to confirm me in this belief. When I looked round the ship too and saw a multitude of black people of every description chained together, every one of their countenances expressing dejection and sorrow, I no longer doubted of my fate; and, quite overpowered with horror and anguish, I fell motionless on the deck and fainted. When I recovered a little, I found some black people about me, they talked to me in order to cheer me, but all in vain. I asked them if we were not to be eaten by those white men with horrible looks, red faces, and long hair. They told me I was not: and one of the crew brought me a small portion of spirituous liquor in a wine glass, but, being afraid of him, I would not take it out of his hand. One of the blacks, therefore, took it from him and gave it to me, and I took a little down my palate, which, instead of reviving me, as they thought it would, throw me into the greatest consternation at the strange feeling it produced, having never tasted any such liquor before. I now saw myself deprived of all chance of returning to my native country. I was filled with horrors of every kind, still heightened by my ignorance of what I was to undergo. I was not long suffered to indulge my grief; I was soon put down under the decks, and there I received such a salutation in my nostrils as I had never experienced in my life: so that, with the loathsomeness of the stench, and crying together, I became so sick and low that I was not able to eat, nor had I the least desire to taste any thing. </li></ul>
  9. 9. <ul><li>At last, when the ship we were in had got in all her cargo, they made ready with many fearful noises, and we were all put under deck. The stench of the hold was intolerably loathsome. The closeness of the place, and the heat of the climate, added to the number in the ship, which was so crowded that each had scarcely room to turn himself, almost suffocated us. This produced copious perspirations, so that the air soon became unfit for respiration, from a variety of loathsome smells, and brought on a sickness among the slaves, of which many died. This wretched situation was again aggravated by the galling of the chains, now became insupportable; and the filth of the necessary tubs, into which the children often fell, and were almost suffocated. The shrieks of the women, and the groans of the dying, rendered the whole a scene of horror almost inconceivable. Every circumstance I met with, served only to render my state more painful, and heightened my apprehensions, and my opinion of the cruelty of the whites. </li></ul>
  10. 10. <ul><li>Upon arrival in America slaves were brought to the market. Originally slavery existed throughout all of America.However after 1804, slavery was present only in the Southern states. </li></ul><ul><li>This was due to the difference in the economies of the North and South. Unlike the South, the land, climate, and soil of the northern colonies were not suited for large-scale farming, and thus only a small number of slaves were needed compared with the South. </li></ul><ul><li>Hence once slavery began to be seen as morally wrong, slavery was made illegal in the North. Not so in the South, whose white inhabitants could not conceive of a world without cheap labour of their slaves. </li></ul>
  11. 11. <ul><li>To learn what if felt like to experience the slave market, we learn from Olaudah Equiano again. </li></ul><ul><li>We were not many days in the merchant's custody, before we were sold. On a signal given, (as the beat of a drum) the buyers rush at once into the yard where the slaves are confined, and make choice of that parcel they like best. The noise and clamour, and the eagerness visible in the countenances (faces) of the buyers, serve not a little to increase the apprehension of terrified Africans. In this manner, without scruple, are relations and friends separated, most of them never to see each other again. I remember, in the vessel in which I was brought over, in the men's apartment, there were several brothers, who, in the sale, were sold in different lots; and it was very moving on this occasion, to see and hear their cries at parting. </li></ul>
  12. 12. The Antebellum South <ul><li>The era between 1800 and the beginning of the Civil War (1861) is known as the antebellum period (pronounced anteh-BELL-um), which means &quot;before the war.“ </li></ul><ul><li>Economic activity in the South centred on cotton, rice and tobacco farming. These farms had a huge demand for the cheap labour of the slaves. </li></ul><ul><li>In I860, there were almost 4 million slaves in the U.S. South. Seven out of eight slaves lived and worked on farms and plantations, like the characters in The Longest Memory , who live on a cotton plantation. </li></ul>
  13. 13. The Machine That Increased Slavery – Cotton is King <ul><li>Cotton farming was profitable, as world wide demand was high. There remained a problem, however. Separating the fragile cotton fibres from the seed—a process known as ginning (pronounced JIN-ing)—could only be done by hand, which made it labour-intensive and costly. </li></ul><ul><li>The Cotton Gin is a machine invented in 1793 invented by Eli Whitney. mechanize the production of cotton. The machine quickly separates cotton fibres from the seedpods and the sometimes sticky seeds. Whitney's invention of the cotton gin made more African-Americans become slaves when he was trying to help them, by making their lives easier. As more cotton could be refined quicker than before, more slaves were needed to work in the fields to grow the crop. </li></ul>
  14. 14. Daily Life on the Plantations <ul><li>The antebellum South often conjures up romantic images….of “Gone With the Wind”.. </li></ul>
  15. 15. <ul><li>..driveways flanked by sheltering oaks… </li></ul>Approach to Mansfield OakAlley, one of the most well-preserved antebellum rice plantations in the US.
  16. 16. ...belles of the ball...
  17. 17. …dashing suitors…
  18. 18. … grand living..
  19. 20. … and more grand living…
  20. 21. The reality <ul><li>The scars on this man’s back show the cruel reality of this way of life. </li></ul><ul><li>The lavish lifestyle enjoyed by a small minority of whites was built upon a system that relied upon the oppression and exploitation of its African labour force, the slaves. </li></ul>
  21. 22. Slave Life on Plantations <ul><li>When it came to the necessities of life—food, clothing, housing, and health care—slaves were generally given the bare minimum. </li></ul><ul><li>Slaves were housed in small huts, or cabins. Most had no windows or floors and very little furniture. Slaves slept on boards, or blankets and quilts spread over beds of straw. </li></ul><ul><li>To keep costs down, owners crammed as many slaves as possible into each cabin. On one Mississippi plantation, 150 slaves lived in only twenty-four huts. </li></ul>
  22. 23. Consider the contrast.
  23. 24. Life for slaves was one of unremitting labour
  24. 25. <ul><li>At harvest time, many of the plantations required their field hands to pick a minimum amount of cotton each day. Masters, depending on their level of greed or cruelty, demanded from 45 to 135 kilos of cotton per day from each slave. </li></ul><ul><li>If the quota was not met, a slave could expect a whipping as punishment. </li></ul><ul><li>One former plantation slave, Solomon Northrup, wrote in his 1853 autobiography about the constant sound of the whip at night during cottonpicking time.. </li></ul>
  25. 26. <ul><li>“… &quot;It was rarely that a day passed by without one or more whippings. This occurred at the time the cotton was weighed. The delinquent, whose weight had fallen short, was taken out, stripped, made to lie upon the ground, face downwards, when he received a punishment proportioned to his offence. It is the literal, unvarnished truth, that the crack of the lash, and the shrieking of the slaves, can be heard from dark till bedtime, on Eppes' plantation, any day almost during the entire period of the cotton-picking season…&quot; </li></ul>
  26. 27. <ul><li>Whilst completing this labour, slaves were also prohibited from a host of activities and behaviours. Slaves could not visit the homes of whites or free blacks, or have such people visit them. Slaves were not allowed to meet in groups unless a white person was present. Slaves could not hire themselves out for work or conduct themselves in any way as free people. In some communities, slaves were not allowed to carry arms, gamble, smoke or swear in public, blow horns, beat drums, or make &quot;joyful demonstrations.&quot; </li></ul>
  27. 28. Family Life <ul><li>The very nature of slavery, which viewed enslaved blacks as property rather than human beings, denied to slaves the basic rights and freedoms necessary to form secure and stable families. </li></ul><ul><li>When slaves were sold, families were often divided—husband from wife, parents from children—with little regard given to keeping a family together if higher profits were possible by selling them separately. </li></ul><ul><li>The master's absolute power made it nearly impossible for slaves to develop relationships and responsibilities considered typical of a healthy family structure at the time. A male slave had none of the traditional authority or prestige as breadwinner that was usually granted to a husband or father. The master was in charge of his labour and could exploit the slave's wife sexually or punish his children at will. </li></ul>
  28. 29. Slave religion <ul><li>Slave owners in the South tried to control every part of a slave's life, no matter how personal it was. If it was up to the slave owners, they would have controlled their slaves' spiritual lives as well—not that they didn't try. </li></ul><ul><li>Slaves in the cities and towns of the upper South, and those states that bordered on the North, were sometimes able to attend separate black churches. There they found a safe forum, free from their white masters, for their religious and political expressions. Blacks, slave or free, could worship and have their children attend Sunday Bible schools with their own community. </li></ul>
  29. 30. <ul><li>Slaves may have sat patiently with their masters in Sunday services, nodding their heads and saying &quot;Amen&quot; for emphasis every now and then, but they were not blind to their masters' attempts to control them with the fear of God. </li></ul><ul><li>Nancy Williams, an ex-slave from Virginia wasn't fooled: &quot;Dat ole white preachin' wasn't nothin'. Old white preachers use to talk with dey tongues widdout sayin' nothin'. But Jesus told us slaves to talk wid our hearts.“ </li></ul><ul><li>Slaves were able to create, through their own religious practices, songs, music, families, and folk beliefs, a sacred space that was untouchable by their white masters. Slaves seemed to be in control of at least one thing in their lives—their own souls. </li></ul>
  30. 31. <ul><li>For guidance, many slaves turned to the Bible. They found comfort in the Old Testament stories of God's deliverance of the Israelites from slavery, and the punishment of the Egyptians for their treatment of his chosen people. Slaves also found comfort in the story of Jesus, a &quot;servant&quot; who suffered from great persecution as well. For slaves, contrary to their masters' designs, the Bible confirmed what they felt in their hearts: the slaveholder, not the slave, was the sinner. </li></ul>South Quay Baptist Church, founded 1775
  31. 32. Education? <ul><li>On the plantations of the Deep South, very few slaves received an education. It is estimated that 90 percent of slaves were illiterate (unable to read or write). Officially, no one was allowed to provide any organized instruction of any kind to blacks, slave or free. </li></ul><ul><li>If slaves were caught with books or writing materials, they were whipped. </li></ul><ul><li>Some slaves, however, did learn to read and write, often with help from their owners. Frederick Douglass (1817-1895), writer and abolitionist, was the most famous example of a slave who learned to read and write from his owner's wife, the mistress of the house. Other slaves somehow managed to learn the basics, perhaps from the white children of the house or other slaves, and then secretly educate themselves. </li></ul>Frederick Douglas, an escaped slave who learn to read and write, published his famous autobiography, Douglass' best-known work is his first autobiography, Narrative of the Life of Frederick Douglass, an American Slave, which was published in 1845
  32. 33. Escape <ul><li>In the 1930s during the Great Depression, the US government commissioned the Federal Writers Project to give unemployed writers work. The writers interview 2000 ex slaves, who were then very old. Historians are fortunate to have this body of evidence. John Barker 84, was born on a plantation close to Cincinnati, Ohio property of the Barker family,tells what happened to slaves who tried to escape. </li></ul><ul><li>&quot;Talk about times! De blood houn's on deir trail! Dey run my gran'fadder ovah one hun'erd miles and never caught 'im till about t'ree or fo' days an' nights an' dey found 'im under a bridege. What dey put on him was e-nuf. I have seen 'em whip 'em till de blood run dowm deir backs and den dey would put common salt in de places where dey whipped 'em. I've seen 'nuf o' dat' Yes, ma'am, dat was up in Ohio I seen all dat. </li></ul>
  33. 34. References <ul><li> </li></ul><ul><li> </li></ul><ul><li> </li></ul><ul><li> </li></ul><ul><li> </li></ul><ul><li> </li></ul><ul><li> </li></ul><ul><li> </li></ul>