History Research Project – Life on a Plantation
Were the lives of all slaves harsh?
No, there were levels in slave societies. It all depended on how skilled they were, their age, which part in America they were and if a white man fathered them.
The highly skilled slaves, some whom could earn money for themselves, were the highest and had a chance to buy their freedom. On plantations, being a driver was the top job; they were often of mixed race, meaning having a white and black parent. Next came those with special skills and domestic servants, they got a little bit of money rarely and usually got better food and shelter than most slaves. Finally there were the field labourers; they made up most of the slave population.
The age of the slave was important on how they slaves were treated, slaves were expensive and the owners didn’t want to waste money. Therefore, the owners gave different jobs to different age groups. The older slave population did jobs like crafting; they were usually kept away from doing heavy lifting and hard labour jobs. The infant population, usually around 10 years and below did small tasks and hardly did any work at all. The middled aged and fit population worked in the filed and did hard labour work.
Some Europeans who had fathered children born to slave mothers wanted to free their children, to educate them and leave them property. If they weren’t freed they still usually had easier lives than other slaves.
The way that slaves were treated varied in America. In the South, slaves were treated much worse that in the North and had less of a chance to buy their freedom. They usually stayed slaves for most of their lives and lived very harsh lives. However, slaves in the North were generally treated better in the South. They usually lived less harsh lives, still pretty rough, and had a better chance of buying freedom. There were far more free slaves in the North than in the South of America
Overall, most slaves never got the chance to...