Browse a collection of first hand narratives of slaves and former slaves at the

Browse a collection of first hand narratives of

This preview shows page 9 - 12 out of 32 pages.

Browse a collection of first-hand narratives of slaves and former slaves at the National Humanities Center () to learn more about the experience of slavery. Slave parents had to show their children the best way to survive under slavery. This meant teaching them to be discreet, submissive, and guarded around whites. Parents also taught their children through the stories they told. Popular stories among slaves included tales of tricksters, sly slaves, or animals like Brer Rabbit, who outwitted their antagonists ( Figure 12.7 ). Such stories provided comfort in humor and conveyed the slaves° sense of the wrongs of slavery. Slaves° work songs commented on the harshness of their life and often had double meanings±a literal meaning that whites would not find offensive and a deeper meaning for slaves. Click and Explore Chapter 12 Cotton is King: The Antebellum South, 1800—1860 339
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Figure 12.7 Brer Rabbit, depicted here in an illustration from Uncle Remus, His Songs and His Sayings: The Folk- Lore of the Old Plantation (1881) by Joel Chandler Harris, was a trickster who outwitted his opponents. African beliefs, including ideas about the spiritual world and the importance of African healers, survived in the South as well. Whites who became aware of non-Christian rituals among slaves labeled such practices as witchcraft. Among Africans, however, the rituals and use of various plants by respected slave healers created connections between the African past and the American South while also providing a sense of community and identity for slaves. Other African customs, including traditional naming patterns, the making of baskets, and the cultivation of certain native African plants that had been brought to the New World, also endured. 340 Chapter 12 Cotton is King: The Antebellum South, 1800—1860 This content is available for free at https:// FQ[±RUJ /content/col11740/1.3
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AMERICANA African Americans and Christian Spirituals Many slaves embraced Christianity. Their masters emphasized a scriptural message of obedience to whites and a better day awaiting slaves in heaven, but slaves focused on the uplifting message of being freed from bondage. The styles of worship in the Methodist and Baptist churches, which emphasized emotional responses to scripture, attracted slaves to those traditions and inspired some to become preachers. Spiritual songs that referenced the Exodus (the biblical account of the Hebrews° escape from slavery in Egypt), such as ²Roll, Jordan, Roll,³ allowed slaves to freely express messages of hope, struggle, and overcoming adversity ( Figure 12.8 ). Figure 12.8 This version of ²Roll, Jordan, Roll³ was included in Slave Songs of the United States , the first published collection of African American music, which appeared in 1867.
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