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The Slave Community: Plantation Life in the Antebellum South

John W. Blassingame's The Slave Community: Plantation Life in the Antebellum South provides a unique perspective of the cultural and personal development of the African-American slave on plantations during the period prior to the Civil War. His interpretation of the cultural and personal development of the American slave during the antebellum era contrasts with some authors who viewed such life as akin to imprisonment. Instead, Blassingame demonstrates that a certain mutuality in the relationship between plantation master and slave allowed for accommodation and negotiation, since the slave was a necessary economic generating resource for the master. Because the master, despite having total power legally over the slave, viewed the slave as necessary for making money, Blassingame argues that the slave "gained a sense of worth in the quarters, spent most of his time free from white surveillance by whites, controlled important aspects of his life, and did some personally meaningful things on his own volition."[1] In this manner, the slave was not totally controlled by the master or totally subservient to him.

In this interpretation lies Blassingame's major theme of American slave cultural and personal development in the Antebellum South. Blassingame maintains greater autonomy over both and greater development than most think possible within the relationship of master-slave is evident for American slaves during this period. The author maintains that economic forces and the difficulty in restricting and monitoring others on a continual basis permitted a certain flexibility, accommodation, and economic mutuality within the master-slave relationship. As Blassingame maintains, despite the master having almost absolute power over the slave from a legal perspective, he was "dependent on the slave's labor for his economic survival, the planter ordinarily could not afford to starve, torture, or work him to death."[2] Thi...

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The Slave Community: Plantation Life in the Antebellum South. (1969, December 31). In LotsofEssays.com. Retrieved 20:06, June 19, 2019, from https://www.lotsofessays.com/viewpaper/2000683.html