Today our main way to learn of the past is by reading the diaries of people who lived during a specific historic time period. Diaries are primary sources and by reading them we can understand the person’s perspectives and reactions to events. I believe many slaves responses to slavery were passive because they knew of no other life than serving others, while more educated slaves realized they were beyond serving others and working in fields. Harriet Jacobs was a fifteen year old rural slave.
She was not quite passive on her response to slavery but she was not active either.
In her diary she wrote about her master whispering vial things into her ear and her feelings toward him were hatred and disgust. Harriet did not report any of her master’s behavior she stated in her diary,” but where could I turn for protection?” who would have believed her? It was her word against her masters, he would have denied everything.
Along with that she also wrote, “The degradation, the wrongs, the vices that grow out of slavery, are more than I can describe.” She believed that slaves should not have been treated in such ways.
William Byrd II inherited his plantation and slaves from his father. In William’s diaries he wrote only of the routine events in his day it reads, “I rose at 5 o’clock this morning and read a chapter in Hebrew and 200 verses in Homer’s Odyssey. I ate milk for breakfast. I said my prayers. Jenny and Eugene were whipped. I danced my dance. I read law in the morning and Italian in the afternoon…” he wrote nothing concerning the slaves, the plantation or his family, unless he wrote about disciplining his children. He was passive in response to slavery. I believe he felt that the system was made how it was supposed to be and thought nothing wrong of it.
Frances Annie Kemble was a British actress who opposed slavery. She married Pierce Butler the owner of six hundred slaves. Frances kept a sort of journal talking about her experiences living on her husbands’ plantation, but it was not published until after her divorce in 1849. She was active in her response to slavery. Her journal spoke of her feelings towards the system of slavery. It read,” You will see how miserable the physical condition of many of these poor creatures is; and their physical condition, it is insisted by those who uphold this evil system, is the only part of it which is prosperous, happy, and compares well with that of Northern laborers.”
I believe many slaves’ responses to slavery were passive because they knew of no other life than serving others, while the educated slaves realized they were beyond serving others and working hard labor. People, such as Frances, who were active in responding to slavery, felt the slaves deserved to be treated better and make of themselves what they want to be not who the system thinks they should be. And persons alike as William were passive to respond; they had no care for the slaves they used them at their will and bidding and were just occupied with their own needs and life.
Cite this Perspectives on slavery
Perspectives on slavery. (2016, May 04). Retrieved from https://graduateway.com/perspectives-on-slavery/