House Slave   Food & Clothes   Education   Housing   Religion   Punishment   Birth   Childhood   Singing

The Slave Life

House slaves

House slaves usually lived better lives than field slaves. They had better food and their owners sometimes gave them new clothes, more often than field slaves. Some house slaves were educated by the women of the family.

Food & Clothes
Most of the time slaves recieved a monthly alowance of corn meal, salt-herrings and clothing.  Some planation owners gave their slaves a piece of land, and a place where they could grow crops. Most slaves were given an overcoat, a wool-hat and shoes once every 2 or 3 years.

In the early part of the 19th century there were no schools for black people in the southern states.  Some teachers had secret night schools for blacks.  The first black school was opened in New York City in 1787.  In 1849 Charles Sumner helped Sarah Roberts to sue the city of Boston for refusing to admit black kids to its school.     The case was lost but in 1855 Massachusets changed its laws so any person no matter the skin color, could go to school in Massachusets.

There houses were wooden shacks with dirt floors.  Their beds were made of straw and old rags thrown down in a corner and boxed in with boards, and they only had one blanket!

In the south blacks were usually not allowed to attend church.  The white people feared the blacks would interpret the teachings of Jesus as being a favor of equality.  Slaves were also not allowed to do their African religious rituals.

The main method to control the slaves was by whipping them.  The number of times they were whipped depended on the seriousness of what they did.  The normal amount of whips was 39 times. The highest amount of times ever whipped was 200 times by Moses Roper, Moses got whipped because he tried to run away.

Giving Birth

Pregnant slaves were expected to continue their work until the baby was born. Only 1 month was allowed to rest after giving birth.  The women carried their babies on their backs while they worked.

Kids were expected to work on the plantation once they reached the age of 7 or 8.

Slaves would sing a lot when they would work.  They would make music by dancing, patting their feet, and by clapping thier hands.
They couldn't use drums because the overseers thought they were sending messages to other slaves.