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The student understands the rapid growth of "the peculiar institution" after 1800 and the varied experiences of African Americans under slavery


The Old South
Resource Type: E-Seminar

Relevant pages:
The Cotton Kingdom: The Spread of Slavery
The Cotton Kingdom: The Economics of Cotton
Plantation Values: The Paternalist Vision
Plantation Values: The Harsher Reality
Plantation Values: The Defense of Slavery
Plantation Values: A System of Subordination
Slave Life and Culture: Varieties of Slave Labor
Slave Life and Culture: Field Workers' Conditions
Slave Life and Culture: Order and Discipline
Slave Life and Culture: Slave Communities
Resistance to Slavery: Day-to-Day Resistance
Resistance to Slavery: Running Away
Resistance to Slavery: Rebellion
Resistance to Slavery: Suppression

Frederick Douglass and his Mother
Resource Type: Primary Source
Frederick Douglass's autobiography is considered one of the classic slave narratives and was written for the abolitionist cause.

Frederick Douglass Describes a Whipping
Resource Type: Primary Source
Radical abolitionists sought to document their claims about the horrors of slavery.

The "Mudsill" Theory
Resource Type: Primary Source
Senator James Henry Hammond explains that every society is based on the exploitation of a lower class. To Hammond, the pursuit of civilization is impossible without a class to do the drudge work.

Southern Society: Religion and Slavery
Resource Type: Document-Based Question
Using this DBQ, students will examine the paradoxical role of religion in the lives of slaves in the antebellum South. Different kinds of religion are explored as students confront the ways in which religion served to liberate or to oppress slaves.

A Slave Account
Resource Type: Primary Source
Henry Bibb was born a slave in Kentucky in 1815. He escaped to Canada in 1837 and subsequently wrote an account of his experiences.

A Slave Funeral
Resource Type: Primary Source
Charles Ball was a slave in western Maryland. In the following excerpt, he describes a slave funeral.

Stringfellow's Biblical Justification for Slavery
Resource Type: Primary Source
In his 1860 book, Thornton Stringfellow explains what he sees as the biblical justification for slavery.

Religious Instruction for Slaves
Resource Type: Primary Source
Peter Randolph was a former slave and a minister at the Old African Baptist Church in Richmond, Virginia. In the following excerpt, he describes religious instruction for slaves.

Ex-Slave Becomes a Preacher
Resource Type: Primary Source
Members of the New Deal’s Federal Writers’ Project interviewed former slaves during 1936–38. The misspellings respect the speech and regional dialect of the ex-slaves. Anderson Edwards, born in Texas on March 12, 1844, recounts his experience as a preacher.

Ex-Slave Discusses Religion
Resource Type: Primary Source
Members of the New Deal’s Federal Writers’ Project interviewed former slaves during 1936–38. The misspellings respect the speech and regional dialect of the ex-slaves. Orleans Finger, born in Little Rock, Arkansas, c. 1858, described his faith in God.

Family Worship on a Plantation
Resource Type: Primary Source
This picture illustrates a family worshiping on a plantation in South Carolina. Note the African American preacher and both black and white worshipers.

Master Going to Sell Us Tomorrow
Resource Type: Primary Source
Spirituals were sung by slaves, mostly outside of churches. They reflected the values and experiences of African Americans.

Go Down Moses
Resource Type: Primary Source
Many spirituals compared African American slaves to the ancient Hebrew slaves depicted in the Bible, who eventually gained their freedom.

The Master-Slave Relationship
Resource Type: Document-Based Question
The recent scholarship on slavery explores the complex relationship between master and slave and re-examines the historical agency of slaves. In reading the slave narratives provided in this DBQ, students can assess how slaves tried to retain their dignity in the worst of circumstances.

Slave–Sale Broadside
Resource Type: Primary Source
A slaveowner advertises his slaves as valuable commodities, identifying each slave.

Letter from a Fugitive Slave
Resource Type: Primary Source
In this letter, escaped slave Anthony Chase explains to his former master Jeremiah Hoffman why he has run away.

Letter from a Slaveowner
Resource Type: Primary Source
In this letter, Henry Tayloe, a slaveowner, reveals to his brother the interest of Southern slaveholders in the institution of slavery.

Account of a Former Slave
Resource Type: Primary Source
In his 1846 autobiographical account, Lewis Clarke, a former slave, answers questions about the manner in which he lived before he gained his freedom in 1841.

Ran Away
Resource Type: Primary Source
This broadside promised a reward for the return of a fugitive slave.

Resource Type: Primary Source
These iron leg shackles are typical of those used on Southern plantations in the mid-1800s to restrain slaves when they were being moved from one location to another and to punish slaves who attempted escape.

Frederick Douglass on Slavery
Resource Type: Primary Source
Frederick Douglass was an escaped slave who gained fame as an orator and a writer promoting the cause of abolition. He wrote the following testimonial to the demoralizing effects of slavery in his autobiography.

Dred Scott Decision
Resource Type: Primary Source
The following excerpt is from the majority decision in the case of Dred Scott v. Sandford. Written by Chief Justice Roger B. Taney, it addresses the question of African American citizenship and slavery in the territories.

Testimony of a Female Slave
Resource Type: Primary Source
Harriet A. Jacobs recounts the unique struggles of female slaves in her autobiography, which was later edited by the famous abolitionist, Lydia Maria Child.

Experiences of Female Slaves
Resource Type: Primary Source
The following excerpt is from the narrative of a former slave who lived on a small farm in Tennessee.

Masters and Slaves
Resource Type: Primary Source
Members of the New Deal’s Federal Writers’ Project interviewed former slaves during 1936–38. The misspellings respect the speech and regional dialect of the ex-slaves. Mother Ann Clark, born June 1, 1825, was a slave in Louisiana. She describes the ruthlessness of her master.

Slaves Picking Cotton
Resource Type: Primary Source
In this illustration, slaves are shown picking cotton while overseers watch from horseback.

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