Some children would even have to eat out of a trough like pigs. He was repeatedly whipped by one of his masters. The same master even almost killed because he couldn’t get up do to exhaustion. He eventually his master broke him. The happiness in him faded as his spirit was broken.
In his Narrative of the life of Frederick Douglass, an American Slave, Frederick Douglass describes in vivid detail his experiences of being a slave. In his novel Douglass talks about what it was like to move from location to location and what it was like to work long, hard hours with less than substantial sustenance. Eventually he escapes the clutches of slavery but not before he endured beatings, forced hard labor and emotional mistreatment. During his time as a slave he was tasked with various kinds of work and after he became free he worked as a speaker who advocated for abolition of slavery.
Frederick Douglass, author of the narrative by the same name, was a slave that was not physically free, but he was mentally. While other slaves did not realize that what was going on was wrong, Douglass did. He used his mentally freedom to become free physically free as well. Douglass’ hardships started the day he was born. He was born into slavery, like other African-Americans, and was constantly treated like dirt.
Slavery in America was considered to be one of the most devastating acts in history. African American people were torn from their homelands and sold at auction to the highest bidder. Men, women, and children were forced into slavery or born into it, experiencing harsh conditions such as abuse, neglect, and even death. This experience though did not always happen, some slaves were treated fairly and were never punished by their owner’s. Events such like this were recalled by two former slaves by the names of Aunt Harriet Smith and Charlie Smith.
Olaudah Equiano begins his journal entry by describing the ocean and the slave ship, which were the first things he saw when he was taken onto the slave ship. He was fascinated by them, but he soon realized that it was going to be a horrific journey. Equiano’s first thought was that they were going to kill him, for they had a different skin tone, bore long hair, and spoke a different language. The crew beat Olaudah when he refused to eat. The conditions under the deck where Equiano lived were dreadful: people were packed together so tightly that they were fighting for breathing room.
That’s when he realized his chances of seeing his home country again were very slim. The smell under the decks were so terrible that he became so sick he was unable to eat; he wished death would relieve him. When it was time to eat and he refused, he got laid down, his feet tied and beaten badly. He found some of his countrymen and asked what was going on and they told him they are being carried to the white people’s country to work for them. The boat lacked fresh air and it was so hot and unbearable that people became sick and died.
Mary and Equiano are kidnapped in ways that are alike and different. For example, Mary is carried away during a Wampanoag raiding that wanted to trade hostages for money. This raiding was caused by Metacomet’s former assistant giving information to the colonists. Equiano was kidnapped from his house by African raiders involved in the slave trade.
Slavery had many faces but the underlying concept remained beneath each of these different faces. No matter how kindly a slave was treated by their master, they were still considered property and subhuman. While some owners beat and mutilated their slaves, others were more "kind" and treated their slaves humanely. Nonetheless, they still owned slaves and believed the slaves were property. Famous former slaves, such as Frederick Douglass, enlightened people as to how slaves were treated by their masters.
Although, back then was a completely different story. The Interesting Story of the life of Olaudah Equiano by Olaudah Equiano shows not only the struggles of being a newcomer in America, but also the difficulties he had to persevere coming over. Slaves were considered property, and not humans, so they often received harsh treatment which sometimes even were serious injuries or death. “While we forgot our misfortunes in the joy of being together, but even that small comfort was soon to have an end”, Olaudah says and he is one of the many slave siblings that were torn apart by the selling and buying of slaves (Jefferson 57). This had to be devastating for him and his sister because not only are they thousands of miles away from home and family, but they were also torn from the little family they had left.
Slave masters only care about keeping slaves working for them as long as slaves can alive, and how much fortune and wealth slaves can bring to them according the amount labor they can do. Base on this, slave owners would “retire” or abandon, but not free any slaves who were too old to work and became less profitable for slave-owners, just as Douglass’s grandma. Meanwhile, their masters enjoyed whipping and mistreating them regardless of their action, but slaves had to endure their feeling and angry in order to survive, and not telling the truth about their masters. Slaveholders would not receive any punishment for murdering or whipping slaves to death when Douglass recalled the master
Because of this, he successfully creates a contrast between what the slave owners think of and treat the slaves and how they are. Douglass says that slave’s minds were “starved by their cruel masters”(Douglass, 48) and that “they had been shut up in mental darkness” (Douglass, 48) and through education, something that they were deprived of, Frederick Douglass is able to open their minds and allow them to flourish into the complex people that they are. By showing a willingness to learn to read and write, the slaves prove that they were much more than what was forced upon them by their masters.
The question on how slaves were actually treated by re- revolutionary English colony masters brings some turmoil into play. Slavery gained importance in the English colonies when there was an increasing need for labor but unluckily for some slaves, certain masters were a bit gentler than others. When we first think about slavery, our reaction is always negative. And, although that is probably the best reaction to have overall, we have to realize not all slaves were treated poorly. Just like there is good and bad people in the world now, it was the same back then.
The pain that came with this type of psychological oppression is explained in The World of the Southern Blacks; “The terrible anguish that usually accompanied the breakup of families through sale showed the depth of kinship feelings. Masters knew the first place to look for a fugitive was in the neighborhood of a family member who had been sold away. Indeed, many slaves tried to shape their own sales in order to be sold with family members or to the same neighborhood. These efforts were fraught with danger. As one ex-slave recalled, “The mistress asked her which she loved the best her mammy or her daddy, and she thought it would please her daddy to say that she loved him the best
During the nineteenth century, slaves were used as a great part of the workforce in Southern states in America. Many of the men worked hard labor and the women were used mostly as nurses or housekeepers. Slave-owners were often strict on their slaves because they were looked at as property rather than people. Slave owners often had rules on their plantation of how their slaves must act under their ownership. One southern slaveholder, named Bennet H. Barrow, published a listed of rules on how slaves should be treated.
Olaudah Equiano was an African American man in England during the late 1700s. His racial color alone automatically ascribed him as a slave during this time period. In 1789, Equiano wrote a memoir about his journey as a slave. At this time, the Trans-Atlantic Slave Trade was taking place. Therefor slavery was very common, and it was not abnormal for a young child to be kidnapped and forced into slavery (Equiano 3).