Further, he lived with his grandmother, while his mother lived and worked miles away, walking to see him late at night. In his narrative, aimed at an abolitionist audience, Douglass suggested that slaveowners purposefully separated children from their parents in order to blunt the development of affection between them. Abolitionists such as Douglass and Stowe argued that slavery was immoral on many grounds, and the destruction of families was one of them.
Following the Civil War, when slavery finally ended in America after nearly two hundred and fifty years, former slaves took measures to formalize their family relations , to find family members, and to put their families back together. During slavery, many people formed new families after separation, but many of them also held on to memories of the loved ones they had lost through sale.
Starting in , hundreds of people placed advertisements in newspapers searching for family members. Parents returned to the places from which they had been sold to take their children from former owners who wanted to hold on to them to put them to work. And, thousands of African American men and women formalized marriages now that it was possible to do so.
Some married the person with whom they had lived during slavery, while others legalized new relationships. I find that the most exhilarating and meaningful discussions occur when students have an opportunity to engage with primary sources. Working with documents helps students to develop analytical and investigative skills and can give them a sense of how historians come to their understandings of the past. Interacting directly with documents can also help students to retain information and ideas. I offer a few primary sources here that should stimulate discussion and help students to imagine what life may have been like in the past.
As English colonists began the process of putting slavery into place, they paid careful attention to family arrangements among enslaved people. Legislators in Virginia and Massachusetts passed laws in the s making clear that the rules would be different for slaves and that family would not offer protection from slavery. Whereas some doubts have arisen whether children got by any Englishman upon a negro woman should be slave or free, Be it therefore enacted and declared by this present grand assembly, that all children borne in this country shall be held bond or free only according to the condition of the mother, and that if any Christian shall commit fornication with a negro man or woman, he or she so offending shall pay double the fines imposed by the former act.
Students will likely find the language of this statute a bit confusing, but will also enjoy deciphering it. Depending on the age and maturity of your students and the strictures of your school district, you may want to cut the last section regarding fornication. You can have an interesting discussion here about the role of the state or colony in this case in determining who would be a slave and who would be free.
Ask students why they think slaveowners, many of whom were represented in colonial legislatures, would have wanted this provision. How did it help them? What concerns were they attempting to satisfy here? What would be the status of a child born to an enslaved mother and white, slaveowning father? What impact might this have had on black men who were being denied the right to determine the status of their children even though they lived in a patriarchal society in which men were generally dominant?
Note for students that because whites were not enslaved in America, the children of a white mother and enslaved father was automatically free, but in some colonies and later states, legislation punished white women and their mixed-race children by apprenticing the children until adulthood and extending the period of service for the white woman if she was an indentured servant. What were the implications of such punishment? What message did legislatures send about the ideal racial makeup of families?
The following paragraph is from Incidents in the Life of a Slave Girl , written by Harriet Jacobs, a former slave, in My father, by his nature, as well as by the habit of transacting business as a skilful mechanic, had more of the feelings of a freeman than is common among slaves.
My brother was a spirited boy; and being brought up under such influences, he early detested the name of master and mistress. One day, when his father and his mistress had happened to call him at the same time, he hesitated between the two; being perplexed to know which had the strongest claim upon his obedience. He finally concluded to go to his mistress.
Poor Willie! He was now to learn his first lesson of obedience to a master. In this brief passage, Jacobs takes us into the world of one enslaved family.
The American Slave Coast: A History of the Slave-Breeding Industry
You might begin the discussion by encouraging students to describe the scene in their own words. In , William Paul Young self-published a book. He'd written it in six months while holding down three part-time jobs. Maybe you've heard of it. It has sold 18 million copies. Now, Young, one of the most unlikely publishing success stories of the decade, is back with a second novel.
Reawakening into a surreal world where he's able to see through the eyes and experiences of others, Anthony faces the consequences of past actions. His publisher, FaithWords, obviously expects another blockbuster. The first printing is a million books. Young lives in Oregon, but he'll be in Charlotte to sign copies at 11 a.
Saturday, Nov. Menconi will give a reading and sign copies of his book at 7 p.
Emory Elliott. The Columbia History of the American Novel
Friday, Nov. Ever since I wrote two years ago about Paul Reid, the N. I got my latest query last month from a fellow named Tony in Canada. The book, by Manchester and Reid, is now available. Douglas MacArthur. He had begun work on the third and final volume. But then he had two strokes. With his health failing, he reluctantly gave up the project. Reid has lived since in Tryon, about 90 miles west of Charlotte. The book took him five years longer to finish than he expected. So are reviewers.
Four major book review publications, including Publishers Weekly, have given it starred reviews. The book matches the quality, the review says, of works by such esteemed biographers as Robert Caro and Edmund Morris. In , I met Reid at his mountain home to talk about his daunting literary undertaking. His unlikely background made his story especially interesting. Reid, now 63, was neither a Churchill scholar nor a biographer. Now he was writing a volume of more than 1, pages.
Fans of both Churchill and Manchester had been waiting for it ever since the second volume came out in And they had high expectations.
That was intimidating enough. He would have to do a lot of research himself. I remember thinking as I drove home from the mountains after our interview: What a challenge that guy has. Now it looks as if Reid was the perfect person for the job. Over the years, Reid had written several feature stories about Manchester, and the two men had become friends. Both had grown up in Massachusetts and loved the Boston Red Sox.
Manchester was a master at using details and anecdotes to bring history alive. As a former newspaperman himself, he liked having a writer with a reporting background finishing his work. And Reid, like Manchester, loved history. I listened. Did he ever doubt he could do it? He thought about my question for a moment. And then he said no.
List of films featuring slavery
He recalled growing up in a family where Churchill was playing on the Victrola. He talked about how he made the task of writing 1,plus pages manageable by approaching each scene as if he were writing a feature story. While he was a Davidson College junior studying in Paris, McKeithen came to believe he was the seventh angel, assigned to announce the coming Apocalypse.