Plantation Mistresses In The Antebellum Era

636 Words3 Pages

Nicole Soelimto
Professor Antonn Michael
June 4, 2017
Final Exam Paper: Plantation Mistresses

Plantation mistresses had varying roles in the Antebellum era. Living in the antebellum South, they supported the institution of slavery for it alleviated them from domestic chores and improved their status in the society. Through slavery, the plantation mistresses could portray the ultimate housewife because they did not have to carry out manual labor commonly associated with their domestic duty. They proved to be essential to the plantation economy in the South, especially because they undertook the organizational roles. When the slaveholders were committed elsewhere, their wives took over. Historians might be somewhat silent over the …show more content…

As Glymph notes, during the Civil War the option of resorting to male power was less available”.3 This means that the white women had to come out of their gender prescriptions to take over the responsibilities of the plantation although they were still expected to observe the patriarchal hierarchy. Wives were like ‘slaves’, for their husbands expected them to be subordinate. Therefore, their use of violence to manage the plantations may be explained by the responsibility they had to take and their need to use slavery to exercise power, and elevate their position in the society.
Plantation mistresses assume a special place in the institution of slavery although history is relatively silent in documenting their role in the Antebellum Era. They proved to be quite valuable to the plantation economy of the South for they took up the organizational roles upon themselves. However, they exposed the slaves to a high level of atrocities through brutal violence and cruelty. This is a part of the institution of slavery that should not be ignored.

Forret, Jeff. Slave Against Slave: Plantation Violence in the Old South. LSU Press, 2015.
Glymph, Thavolia. Out of the house of bondage: The transformation of the plantation household. Cambridge University Press,

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