Essay on How Slaves Resisted the Institution of Slavery

Published: 2021-08-18
567 words
3 pages
5 min to read
Middlebury College
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When many individuals think of the African American before the civil war, the image that invariably comes to their mind is slavery. However, many African Americans had been able to secure their freedom or lived in a state of semi-freedom even before slavery was abolished by war. Some other slaves however used different measures to show resistance to slavery in the instance that they were not able to achieve freedom. In the antebellum South, there were various strategies that the enslaved African Americans challenged the institution of slavery.

One key strategy that slaves used to defeat the institution of slavery was through slave rebellions. The slave rebellions of note included The Stono Rebellion in 1739, Gabriels conspiracy in the 1800s, and Nat Turners Rebellion in 1831. However, it is only The Stono Rebellion and Nat Turners Rebellion that achieved some success. Other rebellions were quashed before they started.

The other strategy that slaves used to fight the institution of slavery was by running away. Running away was seen as another strategy of resistance to slavery. The slaves who were successful did din in a short period. Some of them hid in nearby forests; visit their spouses on other plantations or relatives. In doing so, they could escape the harsh punishment, to obtain relief from the immense workloads of escape the drudgery of their everyday life under slavery. In fact, some of the slaves were able to escape permanently. Those who were successful formed Maroon communities in nearby swamps and forests. When the Northern parts of the United States abolished slavery, the North became a symbol of freedom to many slaves. Some spirituals contained hidden instructions to the slaves that could guide the slaves north to Canada. The younger slave men had the easiest time of running away.

By the 19th century, there was a network of a sympathetic individual whose main aim was to help the runaway slaves to escape to the North. Individuals such as Harriet Tubman became conductors of the Underground Railroad and was successful in helping more than 200 hindered slaves after she had reached freedom in 1849.

The third strategy that African American slaves used to resist the Peculiar institution of slavery in the South was through ordinary acts of resistance. Small acts of rebellion and day-to-day resistance were the most common forms of resistance. This kind of resistance included different methods of sabotage, for instance, setting fires to buildings, and breaking tools. Other strategies implemented in the day-to-day resistance by slaves included playing dumb, feigning illness, or slowing down work. The prejudices that the masters and their mistresses had about slaves was used by some slaves to their advantage in that some of the slabs could pretend that they did not comprehend the instructions. In fact, some slaves who worked in household s could undermine or undercut their masters, for instance, the slave women discussed by Historian Deborah Gray regarding poisoning her master in 1755.

In conclusion, there were various strategies that African Americans in the south use to fight the peculiar institution of slavery in the south. Whenever possible, Africans Americans resisted slavery. Since the odds against the slaves leading successful rebellions or successful running away were the slaves, most slaves resorted to the only individuals means that they could use. Moreover, the slaves resisted the system of slavery by forming a distinctive culture that was embodied in their religious beliefs that kept their hopes alive.

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