Response To History 1

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  1. What did you learn about the world of slavery and the plantation that you didn’t know after reading Foner? What seems especially noteworthy, shocking, odd? 

After reading Forner’s book I learned, “American freedom also continued to be shaped by the presents of slavery”. The rise of the “Cotton Kingdom” was due to the early industrial evolution. Factories were requisite cotton“ a crop the Deep South was particularly suited to growing”. The demand for cotton, lands in west and Whitney’s invention all led to the “revolutionized American slavery. “With American sovereignty came the expansion of slavery”. Shockingly, the “Congress prohibited the Atlantic slave trade in 1808” and a massive slave trade begun. “Historian estimated one million slaves were shifted from the older slave states to the Deep South between 1800 and 1860.” Most of them were sold at auctions to work on the cotton fields. Slave trade became a business, “slaves coffles –groups chained to one to another on forced marches to the Deep South- became a common sight.” In time cotton became “by far the most important export of the empire of liberty.”

2. List three (3) items (a photo, story, quote, etc.) that you feel are significant. Then, for each item, taken separately, discuss why you believe this item is important.

1. The picture of Hagar Brown.

(Photograph by Bayard Wootten, ca. 1938) Growing up on a rice plantation, Hagar Brown witnessed all phases of its production. Some of her most explicit memories were of the beatings that slaves endured: Don’t done your task, driver wave that whip, put you over a barrel, beat you so blood run down.”

I was always amazed by historical figures lives. I rather read an autobiography from a person point of view from a section of a history she or he lived in! Her picture had an impact on me, she seems so deeply in thought and her facial expression reflects an experience of hard life she lived.

2. This picture captures the “homes” of the slaves.

There was a lot of cabins for the slaves, but they wasn’t fitten for nobody to live in. We just had to put up with them. 

Mary Ella Grandberry, former slave from Colbert County, Alabama- explains in vivid details what environment the slaves lived their lives.

The clusters of cabins where slaves were housed, some times scattered about randomly and other times ordered with geometric precision, were the definitive element of any plantation. Encoded in the quarters was a complex and contradictory message; they were a sign of the planters’ success and the slaves’ captive status. Comments from slaveholder and slave alike detail the slip-shod condition of many of these buildings. Slave cabins had chimneys that were prone to catching fire, roofs that leaked, dirt floors, and walls with gaping holes. Nothing more than a place to sleep, the average slave house appeared to be simply one more of the penalties of being a slave. Yet, testimony from former slaves points up their persistent and deliberate efforts to improve their cabins, to keep them in good repair, and to make them as comfortable as possible. In short, many slaves worked very hard to transform their quarters into homes. In this way slaves signaled their reluctance to accept degrading living conditions. With nearly invisible acts, they defied the subservient status conferred on them by the plantation system.

3 Black people picking cotton while their white overseer rides a horse

(Photographer unknown, ca. 1895)

The property which they [the planters> hold was nearly all earned by the sweat of our brows-an opinion offered by an African-American delegate to the Alabama state constitutional convention in 1867

I can not imagine the hard work these people did every day in their lives!

3. What further questions do you still have about the plantation/slavery experience? What is still confusing?

It was shocking to read about slavery. Personally, the website was incredible and really educational! ! Although, I like to gather more information what happened with slaves after they gained freedom.

“I felt like a bird out of a cage. Amen. Amen. Amen. I could hardly ask to feel any better than I did on that day.- Houston Holloway, former slave fromGeorgia recalling the moment that slavery ended”

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