TAMU HIST 105 - Jacobs essay (4 pages)

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Jacobs essay



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Jacobs essay

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Pages:
4
School:
Texas A&M University
Course:
Hist 105 - History Of The U S
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Hailey Johnson 525007939 04 06 2018 Incidents in the Life of a Slave Girl Essay The concept of enslavement of an entire race is something Americans today find hard to even fathom Just a mere 150 years ago however that unimaginable cruelty was a reality for many African Americans including young Linda Brent Author Harriet Jacobs sought to reveal the egregious world of slavery for its true horror in writing Incidents in the Life of a Slave Girl Her main goal in writing such narrative was to inspire northerners to seek an end to the execrable southern practice of slavery Jacobs goes through her entire captive life using the pseudonym Linda Brent to give a first person account of the life of a slave girl revealing the especial mistreatment women faced from their masters Although Linda endured an utmost perilous life through her enslavement she recalled having a generally pleasant childhood Linda mentioned that she was unaware of her unfortunate situation until six years of happy childhood had passed away Her mother along with her first mistress educated her rather well allowing Jacobs to write such a narrative However once she realized the extent to which her life was indebted into bondage her naivete soon diminished Life as a slave especially a female one became more horrid as she aged Women in particular were seemingly trapped in a vicious cycle of unjust treatment Jacobs even admits that slavery is terrible for men but it is far more terrible for women It was not uncommon for slaveholders to sexually abuse their female slaves It was a crime as Jacobs mentioned for female slaves to tell who the father of their child was Often the father was unfortunately the master of that slave but no justice was ever taken for such tragedies for the slave s mistress the masters wife would often seek blame in the female slave incomprehensibly punishing them for their husband s action Consequently the children of these women would often be torn from their mothers thrown back into the unmerciful system of the slave trade Linda fell victim to the injustice when she was sold to the Flint Family As she neared her teenager years Dr Flint her 55 year old master began to peruse her Unable to convince Linda to give in to his advances he devised a plan to bring in his young daughter to sleep with him designating Linda as the child s care taker during the night As Mrs Flint becomes aware of the situation Linda has no choice but to reveal her masters undesirable actions further provoking Dr Flint and encroaching the mistress s jealousy towards Linda With Dr Flint still sexually harassing Linda she feels the only escape from her nightmare is to impregnate herself by another man hoping this will appall Dr Flint enough to sell her to the auction block Flint instead gave Linda a proposition that if she indulges in his long sought after desires she and her children can go free Linda declining the offer escapes into her Grandmothers shed leaving her children behind with the Flint family Linda is eventually able to reconnect with her children and make to the north where she can be free but her 20 years in enslavement were the utmost frightful For the most part slaves were given no fighting chance no opportunity for revenge or revolt but those with the strongest will for freedom laboriously stopped at nothing to escape For example Linda mentions her Uncle Benjamin who attempts to fight back against his master throwing him to the ground His punishment was to be publicly whipped for the offense but Ben thought it better to take his chances running away to the north Ben finds his attempt at freedom to be none the less unsuccessful as he s spotted as a fugative slave on his ship where he is detained and later imprisoned However Bens spirit had not been yet broken as he eventually is able to run away again this time proving successful Even with his success in finding freedom Ben had to make the choice to leave his family never to see them again The perils of slavery even for those who found refuge were never to cease At this time during the mid to late 1800s slavery was only permitted in southern states allowing many slaves a chance at freedom in the north However their freedom did not ensure them equal treatment Free African Americans even those living in northern states were still seen by many as a lesser race often deprived from finding good work or even a home African Americans were many times denied entry to public schools and other public facilities It would be na ve to assume that America became an egalitarian society immediately following the drafting of the Declaration of Independence However not all white Americans were racist dogmatists During Linda s journey to New York in search of freedom she encounters some welcoming white folk who treat her with respect When Linda is in search of a job a kind English woman Mrs Bruce hires Linda as her baby s nurse despite her fugitive African American status Mrs Bruce treats Linda as a friend even offering to help Linda s daughter Ellen Unfortunately those like Mrs Bruce were a very small percentage of the American white population The majority of America even those opposed to slavery simply believed that the African American race was inferior to their own Even the abolitionists of the civil war fighting to end slavery had self inflicting motives for their fight The union was most interested in ending slavery to protect the common white man from the political and economic tyranny of the southern slaveholders It is commonly misunderstood throughout history that the Union selflessly fought for the freedom of slaves rather they mostly fought for their own political and financial gain Many Americans when looking back to Antebellum American are ashamed of our country during this period Slavery was truly one of the darkest practices in our countries history Personal Narratives like Jacobs Incidents in the Life of a Slave Girl help us grasp the reality and true horror of our shameful past This Narrative is particularly interesting because unlike many other personal Narratives written by slaves Incidents in the Life of a Slave Girl is written in the female slave perspective Not only does this reveal the horrors of slavery but it accounts for the misogynistic abuse and disrespect many of these women endured


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