Slavery is a substandard and unpleasant word. It has been practiced in mankind even before people started to jot down historical facts. People who were considered inferior were kept as slaves for generations denying them of their rights and privileges. Similarly, it is undeniable to scrutinize the literature of 19th-century America without acknowledging the enactments that were obliged upon the slaves and minorities of the time (Acharya et al.). A few people who were lucky enough to escape the unprecedented lifestyle jotted down their experiences of how the institution treated them as slaves. The in-print forms of slavery laws engird almost all forms of literature including articles, testimonials, autobiographies, books, etc. The concept of slavery irrespective of being unambiguously explicit in selfishness is considered acceptable among a few ignorant minds who defend enslavement with all their power.
There were numerous people who promoted the concept of subjugation (Savage). The proponents of slavery included people like George Fitzhugh who argued that liberalism and equality were a source of mayhem in the country. He believed that wide-ranging thinking of the slaves would lead to a wave of catastrophic consequences as they would fight for their basic needs which they were given eloquently by their masters previously. Similarly, E.N. Elliott projects a so-called defensible picture of slavery as he portrays that the slaves of the 19th century were treated as humans as opposed to the gruesome slavery in the past.
Thornton Stringfellow proposed his pro-slavery argument by interlinking the concept of slavery with the belief in Christianity. He argues that enslavement is a sanctioned act and that Christianity is a pro-slavery religion. Samuel A. Cartwright defended the concept of servitude by stating facts of how an increased labor force would generate larger revenue which would be distributed almost equally among the masters and the slaves. William Harper in his memoir on slavery simply puts up a conception that although every man is born free yet it is a human need to maintain nature’s order by ruling over people inferior to oneself. Despite of all these false beliefs, the slaves of the time felt a strong urge to break the chains of subjugation (Morgan). This led to the union of Abolishers who raised their voices to attain their rights.
Amidst all these pro-slavery congregations, people supporting the anti-slavery concept wrote memoirs and recorded testimonials that portrayed the true colors of the institutions and their behavior towards the slaves (Gardner). Sarah Grimke wrote in her memoir how she was appalled by a severed head of a runaway slave hanging on a pole of a railway station for the purpose of petrifying other slaves. American Anti-Slavery Society demonstrates the legality behind keeping a slave and treating few humans less than the others (Van Cleve). Moreover, when it came to religion, slaves were either held back from the worship places of masters or taught different lessons apart from the religious teachings. Nevertheless, suffocated by the restrictive and cruel life, the enslaved black people resisted and denied slavery on an everyday basis. Escape, savage rebellion and downsizing the labor were a few acts that black people used to defy slavery (Guelzo).
Slavery is the subjugation of a person’s rights, honor, and human attribution which was being wholly dismembered in the 19th century. No human is obliged to live his life according to another human whereas no human being holds the authority to rule another living being. Despite the fact that enormous people have stated various rationale to support their argument in favor of enslavement, in the end, it is proven that no matter what ground approves of slavery, it is utterly against human nature and is an exceptionally selfish act played by the so-called superior lot of the community.
Acharya, Avidit, et al. “The Political Legacy of American Slavery.” The Journal of Politics, vol. 78, no. 3, University of Chicago Press Chicago, IL, 2016, pp. 621–41.
Gardner, Catherine Villanueva. “‘Bury Me in a Free Land’: Regret for Slavery in Nineteenth-Century African American Philosophical Literature1.” The Moral Psychology of Regret, Rowman & Littlefield International, 2019, p. 187.
Guelzo, Allen C. Lincoln’s Emancipation Proclamation: The End of Slavery in America. Simon and Schuster, 2005.
Morgan, Kenneth. Slavery in America: A Reader and Guide. University of Georgia Press, 2005.
Savage, Kirk. Standing Soldiers, Kneeling Slaves: Race, War, and Monument in Nineteenth-Century America. Princeton University Press, 2018.
Van Cleve, George William. A Slaveholders’ Union: Slavery, Politics, and the Constitution in the Early American Republic. University of Chicago Press, 2010.