Antebellum Louisiana Slavery

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The Portrayal of Slavery in Antebellum Louisiana in Solomon Northup’s Twelve Years a Slave In his memoire Twelve Years a Slave, illegitimately enslaved Solomon Northup does not only depict his own deprivations in bondage, but also provides a deep insight into the slave trade, slaves’ working and living conditions, as well as religious beliefs of both enslaved people and their white masters in antebellum Louisiana. Northup’s narrative is a distinguished literary piece that exposes the injustice of the whole slaveholding system and its dehumanizing effect. It is not a secret that the agriculture dominated the economy of antebellum Louisiana (Louisiana: A History 183). Therefore the Southern planters needed relatively cheap workforce to cultivate…show more content…
Ford has to “mortgage his slaves to pay off his factor.” (Louisiana: A History 165) Thus, Platt finds himself mortgaged to the malicious overseer named Tibeats. Being Tibeats’ slave, Platt has to “toil day after day, endure abuse and taunts, and scoffs, sleep on the hard ground, and live on the coarsest fare.” (Twelve Years a Slave 125) The writer does not hide his contempt for those slaveholders characterized as “blood-seeking wretches.” (Twelve Years a Slave 125) Such slaveholders as Tibeats and Edwin Epps, another ruthless plantation owner, who buys Solomon from Mr. Williams, fall exactly into such a category. Nonetheless, soon Northup admits that his life on Epp’s plantation proves to be even worse than working with Tibeats. The writer notes that Epps never spares his whip to extract obedience from the “niggers.” Moreover, “being fond of the bottle” and various violent amusements, Epps repeatedly makes his slaves dance for him in the middle of the night or lashes them around his yard with his whip “just for the pleasure of hearing them screech and scream.” (Twelve Years a Slave…show more content…
Thus, Solomon manages to beat Tibeats and almost chokes the life out of him, when the overseer crosses the line in his abusing and humiliating the slave. Moreover, Solomon dodges the attacks of his master Epp, who tries to stab him in a drunken stupor. The slave also recalls the local insurrection initiated by Lew Cheney, the man, who betrayed his black followers and received the laurels from his white masters. Pondering the insidiousness of the traitor, Solomon presumes that soon the white masters will taste the revenge of the oppressed people and pay for all their
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