Response must be thorough and have insight. Professor grades very hard. Work must be top level (95%+) work plagiarism free, with grammar checked and MUST use text and videos as resources.
Topic A: Week 6 – Agency Amongst Slaves
You would think that slaves, being in bondage, would have little control over their own lives (“agency”). Review the assigned reading in our textbook, as well as the Biography of America video on Slavery. Historians in the past few decades have documented that many slaves sought to increase and perpetuate their own agency. How? What were some of the successes and limitations on their efforts to live their lives as they chose?
Topic B: Week 6 – Antislavery – From Gradualism to Immediatism
We saw earlier in the course that some Northern states, like New York, New Jersey and Pennsylvania, did away with slavery gradually in the late 1700s and early 1800s, freeing the children of slaves after the children had reached adulthood. Many opponents of slavery had also supported colonization, resettling former slaves to areas out of the U.S. By the 1830s, many antislavery activists like William Lloyd Garrison changed their views, demanding the immediate abolition of slavery (“immediacy”). Why? Could it have had something to do with the evangelical impulses of the Second Great Awakening? What impact did this have? Discuss.
MUST USE RESOURCES:
Textbook: Norton, Mary Beth, Jane Kamensky, Carol Sheriff, David W. Blight, Howard P. Chudacoff, Frederick Logevall, Beth Bailey, and Debra Michals. A People & a Nation: A History of the United States. Brief Tenth ed. Boston, MA: Cengage, 2015.
pages 86, 94-95, 103, 149, 187-193, 212, 233-238, 245-260, 284-290, 292-294, 338-339
Professor’s Notes: I have used Biography of America in my classes for over a decade, but every time I re-watch it I am still deeply affected by parts of episode 9 on Slavery. The video is replete with valuable information about both slaves and masters, yet I find especially poignant and instructive the letter that Prof. Masur reads from the freed slave who has remarried after being sold away from his wife and family. Students have rightly pointed to the example of the picture of Gordon, his back a mass a scars from physical abuse, and how it illustrated the “brutal conditions” for slaves. We know that many masters believed slaves “can’t be governed except with the whip” and thus they saw extreme physical punishment as justified (Norton, Brief 10th ed., 253). Sexual abuse and exploitation was also rampant (Norton, Brief 10th ed., 256). The letter read by Masur also gives us a window into the emotional trials slaves endured, such as the heartache to be sold away from your loved ones for the profit or whim of the master. The slave who wrote the letter had come through it! He was now free and had remarried, but still carried the pain of the earlier separation as he wrote to his former wife: “Send me some of the childrens hair in a separate paper with their names on the paper. My dear, you know the Lord knows both of our hearts. You know it never was our wishes to be separated from each other, and it never was our fault. I think of you and my children every day of my life (Biography of America 9).
One reason I also find this episode so instructive is that it helps us to think of the slaves as full human beings, rather than as passive subjects of historical forces — they were doing their best to cope and find some reward and happiness in situations that most of us, fortunately, will never have to experience. It also gives us a window into the motivations of black abolitionists like Frederick Douglass who could understand the crushing weight that being enslaved placed on its victims, and thus fought so hard against the institution.
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