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Enslaved house servants labored in both large rural plantation households and large urban houses, as well as in urban taverns and hotels. They performed all the jobs involved with keeping a private or public house running, which included the labor inside the house as well as the care of riding horses and carriages. Under the supervision of the mistress of the house, servants divided the work as ased, with many beginning as young apprentices and advancing up the hierarchy, often inheriting the positions of relatives.
Life on the fields meant working sunup to sundown six days a week and having food sometimes not suitable for an animal to eat. Plantation slaves lived in small shacks with a dirt floor and little or no furniture. Life on large plantations with a cruel overseer was oftentimes the worst.
However, work for a small farm owner who was not doing well could mean not being fed. The stories about cruel overseers were certainly true in some cases. The overseer was paid to get the most work out of the slaves; therefore, overseers often resorted to whatever means was necessary. Sometimes the slaves would drive the overseer off the plantation in desperation. When slaves complained that they were being unfairly treated, slaveholders would most often be very protective of their "property" and would release the overseer.
In some cases, a driver was used rather than an overseer. The difference between the overseer and the driver was simple: drivers were slaves themselves.
A driver might be convinced by a master to manage the slaves for better privileges. Drivers were usually hated by the rest of the slaves. These feelings often led to violence. Large plantations often required some slaves to work in the plantation home. These slaves enjoyed far better circumstances. Domestic slaves lived in better quarters and received better food. They sometimes were able to travel with the owner's family. In many cases, a class system developed within the slave community. Domestic slaves did not often associate themselves with plantation slaves. They often aspired to arrange courtships for their children with other domestic slaves.
As the Peculiar Institution spread across the South, many states passed " slave codes ," which outlined the rights of slaves and the acceptable treatment and rules regarding slaves.
Background and sources
Slave codes varied from state to state, but there were many common thre. One could not do business with a slave without the prior consent of the owner. Slaves could be awarded as prizes in raffles, wagered in gambling, offered as security for loans, and transferred as gifts from one person to another. A slave was not permitted to keep a gun. If caught carrying a gun, the slave received 39 lashes and forfeited the gun.
Blacks were held incompetent as witnesses in legal cases involving whites. The education of slaves was prohibited. Slaves could not assemble without a white person present. Marriages between slaves were not considered legally binding. Therefore, owners were free to split up families through sale.
Any slave found guilty of arson, rape of a white woman, or conspiracy to rebel was put to death. However, since the slave woman was chattel, a white man who raped her was guilty only of a trespass on the master's property. Rape was common on the plantation, and very few cases were ever reported. Report broken link. American History 1. Diversity of Native American Groups b. The Anasazi c.
The Algonkian Tribes d. The Iroquois Tribes 2. Britain in the New World a. Early Ventures Fail b. t-Stock Companies c. Jamestown Settlement and the "Starving Time" d. The Growth of the Tobacco Trade e. War and Peace with Powhatan's People f. The House of Burgesses 3. The New England Colonies a. The Mayflower and Plymouth Colony b.
Enslaved house servants
William Bradford and the First Thanksgiving c. Puritan Life e. Dissent in Massachusetts Bay f. Reaching to Connecticut g. Witchcraft in Salem 4.
The Middle Colonies a. New Netherland to New York b. Quakers in Pennsylvania and New Jersey c.
27b. slave life and slave codes
City of Brotherly Love — Philadelphia d. The Ideas of Benjamin Franklin 5. The Southern Colonies a. Maryland — The Catholic Experiment b.
Indentured Servants c. Creating the Carolinas d.
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Debtors in Georgia e. Life in the Plantation South 6. African Americans in the British New World a. The Growth of Slavery d. Slave Life on the Farm and in the Town e. Free African Americans in the Colonial Era f.
A New African-American Culture 7. The Beginnings of Revolutionary Thinking a. The Impact of Enlightenment in Europe b. The Great Awakening c. The Trial of John Peter Zenger d.
Smuggling e. A Tradition of Rebellion f. America's Place in the Global Struggle a. New France b. The French and Indian War c. George Washington's Background and Experience d. The Treaty of Paris and Its Impact 9. The Events Leading to Independence a.
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