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It's the theme that has gone through Negro history it has been this theme where you don't have the problem of America standing up and living up to the bright promises of the Declaration of Independence. Then there's the essential American thing. There was no life that is not a mark in life because the Negro is a market to complete. Benjamin orals distinguished Tory and that Negro history that is something that unlike schools in a series of talks like that in America the life of the slave we get now slavery is a flourishing institution in the antebellum south and we know it is just a few variations in slavery. Now one of the variations they say is this may very well as a matter of geography. Where ever. The soil and the climate things were conducive to the production of the state they would play
so that within the South with. The problems of the slave we depended upon the geographic back the geographic factor explains why slave we died out in the northern portion so that the first thing we would notice wherever the staple was being produced in great numbers there where you had slavery that is where you would find a concentration of plains where the geographic factor was right. Now the distribution patterns. Only one. Family out of every four only twenty four point eight percent of all over 75 percent of all slaves. And those number that only 2 percent of the number the Poles have 100 or more and only 10 percent held
for the amours of all those so that the number of slaveholders was relatively small. Of course. And when we say that 75 percent of all whites you will see that this population particularly the largest such as me. These are very rare. But there's no there's no public education. Top of the pyramid by the platter. Now all other whites of course hope to move up to the planet star Marco is a man of great mobility where everybody can become somebody with reservations so that you have this idea of mobility and therefore you can make a good marriage like Jefferson Davis you could move into the
plant which in the end to balance out the planet or star follow them of the smallest slave all of the young women you know these are the man of white and so called white and then below those of us we come down to the negro world which we mention in just a moment but the percentage of families holding say but those who did and this is the point we're going to make about they had a stake in the institution of slavery even though they themselves did not have a single slave and they noticed why they felt that way in just a minute. When we come down to why this group would identify with these. Now when we get to an institution like slavery or any other it's a complex it's not the slave of all slaves would look like somebody else plays very
very just to what part of the country you were in. It varies as to whether you were a domestic or plantation slave to the nature of your own master whether you was a good institution of infinite complexity at all all to place would look alike to us who have viewed them outside had status within the CIA for example when we have a pyramid of the ad about the state action. When we moved to the negro part of this pyramid we moved to a path. At the top of the cast of course then we would have then we would come to the aristocracy of the plantations into the plantations and we beat the house. Now the House the person who was the servant the domestic cook waiter the butler the coachman in the big house we had to
because he was on the car. He wore the cast off clothing thing. The highest person in the mask of course was the man he had the key he was very close to the mission. Those of us who have seen Gone With The Wind and seen the idealized picture of the mammy and Haddie McDaniel who was the picture of what a man he must have been a very important influence in particular with the way in and the plantation relatively isolated. So at the top of the pyramid you would meet the aristocrat among those who held themselves in great esteem. Status symbols among slaves and how many. Slaves was looked down upon by a slave rolled many Hmong had them how many status concepts
although we sometimes think of all groups are alike. Within the group itself there are many variations and the host of the aristocrat tended to try to pass some time the house was recruited from the natural children and tend to be more of a mulatto slave. Now just a little below them in all of the antebellum south the skill of Dave was done by not done by anybody else. After the war was over and after the Civil War comes and don't need slaves anymore. The rose up of Negroes can't do without realizing that in the antebellum south all the skilled labor was done by the elite so that you meet the slave in this manner made of the bowels of the shoes the plantation of the place and. So you get the slaves who brought a good price who is generally treated better who himself was very proud of his occupation. He did not work in
games that would be too difficult the supervisor in the words science out. And he therefore tended to work around of a system crowd task he was given a certain amount of work to do. When he finished that he was through with it so many bows to make so many shoes to do. He was cruel when he didn't notice and work on the tasks that a task was that he did the task and he worked this way because the expense of supervision would have been too great not the merits of the slave. And here's where we get the even the gang that didn't live in the big play a role in the process in the cabin. They were the ones who produced the state. The key persons in their lives not so much but the key person overseeing how the overseer was often white. The law requires that you be white. He was a white cross
hope to move into the south. He was the general superintendent. He was the one responsible for the care of the slaves and the production of the staple of course would be a way for a broad overseer ran the plantation. His right person of course with Dr.. We can see what the word means driver the slave where the drive of course was a Negro. He was a robust person. He was dead of night and in the morning he had made a bar. And of course this probably satisfied his ego. He was the driver one of the great Negro spirituals goes No more driving for me. The driver was perhaps the worst hated person by the way because of course he admits that he was the one. He was the one in the cabin and the one that you got up in the money.
He was the one of course that administered. Some driving force field in making it appear as though they were beating persons but most drivers of course were just as the name indicates he was the person in the operation of the plantation so I may say it was one of us made a point that society tended to be matriarchy because when we come down to the slave before the law the next point are making marriages were not and they will not be good because the slave before he was a person. The slave was a chap. He was a chattel person. And therefore in his capacity as a prophet. Everything out to secondary right to his role is proper. Property therefore could not make a solemn contract.
Marriages were not legal there was no legal. Sometimes surveys would jump over the grounds indicating among themselves but there was no such thing as a man therefore the Father was always a shadowy figure in slave life it tended to be made of the mother with the dominant person. The father might be away on another plantation. And therefore this tendency to pick an antebellum period the family tended to be predominately matriarch and some of these things we can see come right into the 20th century and into the present day. So the family were matriarchal but simply because before the law the slaves had no legal rights and because he was a prophet before he was anything else. And therefore he had no right in this sense of our own or property and there were many slaves which said that he couldn't do this you couldn't you couldn't be a way you couldn't couldn't.
Right so that was before the law. Good. Basically as a chattel rather than a person. And he had no recourse there at all. The law not just a word or two as to the role of religion one of us as we say just a word about this particular way we get into the evolution of religion the religion you know dispersed the crowd. Mix church now in this next church they would worship with the white man. But the stable of course being the gas. But this kind of service was not satisfactory to me. Because if I ask them to repent confess of this sort of thing. And there is difficult to preach a sermon that would reach both my plane. And these
two did not appear to be in the presence of a man. So the church gave way to a church in which there would be a white virgin preaching to the negroes of the same morning to be white so that you get the middle stage where the church conducted by white clergy. But this was a sad fact. It was also a lot satisfactory to the Negro at our. He wanted basically to worship in a church where he would have our permission to do as he wished. Where he would be able to not be inhibited. So we get the final evolution the ostler a church the Allstate church needs a church in which the preacher was a slave himself and of course he couldn't read or write. His credentials didn't come from a theological school they team directly from God so to speak. He could not read or write but nevertheless he was birthed in the Bible. There were
always whites present when Negroes conduct their service and they had to be the law required for religious services but you get the ol slave a slave. Slave thing. Slave participation for them and out of the office they church. We do get one tremendous thing in history and of course the Negro spiritual. And this is a prostitution musicology of course we mentioned before. Now there's been a new interpretation of this purge of the last 20 years. Most of us think that disparages are passive and then resign and they think of another world they've abandoned this world and think of something having to come. But it was Fisher an American negro slaves is said about having it all he was thinking about something else. He was communicating to understand what he meant. But if you were not you would not understand what he meant. Because somebody thought he was not singing about
bright mansions above heaven and all he was speaking about Canada. We have been listening to Professor Benjamin Quarles speaking on the Negro American a series of broadcast was produced for a station by the Department of Education or broadcasting for the Detroit Public Schools executive producer Frederick E. Schiller technical direction Clifford where this program was distributed by the national educational radio network.
The negro American
The Life of the Slave, Part I
Producing Organization
Detroit Public Schools
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University of Maryland (College Park, Maryland)
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For series info, see Item 3536. This prog.: The Life of the Slave, Part I
Race and Ethnicity
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Producing Organization: WDTR
Producing Organization: Detroit Public Schools
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University of Maryland
Identifier: 68-30-6 (National Association of Educational Broadcasters)
Format: 1/4 inch audio tape
Duration: 00:15:00
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Chicago: “The negro American; The Life of the Slave, Part I,” 1968-10-07, University of Maryland, American Archive of Public Broadcasting (GBH and the Library of Congress), Boston, MA and Washington, DC, accessed May 26, 2024,
MLA: “The negro American; The Life of the Slave, Part I.” 1968-10-07. University of Maryland, American Archive of Public Broadcasting (GBH and the Library of Congress), Boston, MA and Washington, DC. Web. May 26, 2024. <>.
APA: The negro American; The Life of the Slave, Part I. Boston, MA: University of Maryland, American Archive of Public Broadcasting (GBH and the Library of Congress), Boston, MA and Washington, DC. Retrieved from