Summary Of Incidents In The Life Of Since Jacobs By Harriet Jacobs

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The 19th century was one of the darkest times in American history because of the prevalence of slavery that took place during that time period, especially in the South. The importation of slaves into the United States was banned in 1808, but by that year there were already approximately one million slaves in America. African American slaves worked long hours and often did not receive sufficient food and clothing from their masters. Although treatment of slaves varied by their master, there was a constant threat of physical punishment looming over slaves and they had no legal rights. The inhumane treatment of slaves, especially female slaves, is depicted in young mother and runaway slave Harriet Jacobs’ autobiography Incidents in the Life of …show more content…

Although she did not receive any physical punishment by her master, she lived in a tight-knit community and was aware of the conditions of other slaves who received brutal punishments. For example, Jacobs notes that “every where men, women, and children were whipped till the blood stood in puddles at their feet.” (page 56). Female slaves lived in fear that they would be raped by their masters. Jacobs’ master, Dr. Flint, often made relentless sexual advances at her, and justified his behavior by saying that she was “made for his use.” (page 18). In an effort to protect herself from Dr. Flint, she begins a relationship with a white neighbor and ends up having his children. But, due to the partus sequitur ventrem principle—which states that the slave status of a child follows the condition of the mother—Dr. Flint threatened to sell her children into slavery, which urged Jacobs to take immediate action in creating an escape …show more content…

When Jacobs escapes to New York, she is employed as a nurse to a white family and often accompanies them to dinners and events. This experience teaches Jacobs that even though most people in the North considered themselves abolitionists, they were still racist toward African Americans. While at a dinner with the family she is employed by, she is asked to “seat the little girl in the chair, and stand behind it and feed her,” (page 144) when she sits the child in her lap. She emphasizes the fact that no matter where she goes, slavery and racism will always follow

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