Born in Bondage

Born in Bondage

Growing up Enslaved in the Antebellum South

Book - 2000
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Each time a child was born in bondage, the system of slavery began anew. Although raised by their parents or by surrogates in the slave community, children were ultimately subject to the rule of their owners. Following the life cycle of a child from birth through youth to young adulthood, Marie Jenkins Schwartz explores the daunting world of slave children, a world governed by the dual authority of parent and owner, each with conflicting agendas.
Publisher: Cambridge, Mass. : Harvard University Press, 2000
ISBN: 9780674001626
0674001621
Branch Call Number: 306.362 S399
326 Schwartz
306.362 S399
Characteristics: ix, 272 p. : ill., maps ; 24 cm

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DorisWaggoner
Sep 23, 2017

This book's theme is the constant but usually covert struggle between parents and owners over slave children, from birth to marriage. Geographically, the focus is on Virginia, where most farms were small, with multiple crops and few slaves; the "rice coast" of the Carolinas and Georgia, where rice growing plantations were large; and Alabama, with large plantations mainly growing cotton. In the latter two cases, many slaves were needed in the fields. Considerable research has gone into this book, from owners' records to WPA interviews with ex-slaves in the 1930s. Because importation of slaves stopped in 1808, the only way to increase their numbers was by high slave reproduction. Some masters, wanting more births, and more work from all hands, forced pregnant slaves to work in the fields until they went into labor, and to return to work before they or their infants were strong enough. Slave families knew the risk of these practices for high mortality rates for both, and many resisted with whatever resources they had. Examples like this, with the owners in control and enslaved families trying to make their lives better, abound in this highly recommended and very readable book.

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