Slavery greatly impacted America. From 1500 to 1900 over twelve million Africans entered the New World as captures to be sold. The population of African slaves from the 18th to 19th century escalated tremendously in America. In the 1800s the population of the United States included 893,602 African slaves.Â The population of African slaves multiplied in the census of 1860 from 893,602 to 3,953,760. When thinking about slavery many people tend to overlook the children.Â Just as slavery affected adults it also affected children. Â In the 1900s wealthy Caucasians, young African slaves, and poor Caucasians children experienced different childhood based on their environment.
To fully understand the effects of child slavery one must study the events and culture that took place during this time. Â In the 1900s Young African slave’s childhood differed from the wealthy and poor Caucasians children. Young African children learned responsibility at a young age. Before the age of eight they looked after themselves and those younger than them. As the slave children became older more responsibility bestowed them. For example: children worked alongside their parents helping them in any way possible. With little expected from them children enjoyed their working conditions. As the children grew more tasks awaited them. Wealthy children in the 1900s went to school. They learned how to read, write, and manners (how to behave like a young lady or man). Wealthy Caucasian children lived a pampered life; Emma Knight a child slave remembered that she and her siblings performed regular chores so that her master’s children would not have to work. Wealthy Caucasian children lacked responsibility and discipline because most of them never conducted a task by themselves. Poor Caucasian children often could not afford to go to school. Like young African slaves poor Caucasian children learned responsibility at very young age. Poor Caucasian children often worked on plantations to help support their family. Unlike young African slaves poor Caucasian children did not experience harsh treatment and forced to perform tedious tasks.Â Â Â
Slave parents carried a huge responsibility to help their children understated slavery. Children slaves leaned from their parents that God willed them to be slaves. Subjected to slavery at a very young age, children born into slavery knew nothing else. Slavery frequently involved violence and abuse. These children experienced many acts of violence. Controlled by fear slave children refused to revolt or act rebellious because they knew the consequences. Â This is why many parents became very rigid and harsh toward their children. Â Â They served punishments if they made an error. Slave parents commanded orders and used the switch if the children disobeyed. Â In obeying their parent children quickly learned that you respect people older than you whether black or white. Â Slave children addressed their elders as brother, sister, aunt, or uncle. Slave parents only wanted to protect their children by making them aware of dangerous environments to come. On the other hand the wealthy Caucasian children of the 1900s differed from slave children. They learned bad habits and manners from their parents.Â They learned all these bad habits and manners by observing how their parents acted primarily toward slaves.Â A cycle of abuse happens in repeating patterns. Generational cycles can be passed down by example and exposure from parent to children.
Here I will present case studies on childhood slavery. All of these case studies dealt with different experiences, exposures and lifestyles from slave masters to the children in slavery. Â Â Harriet Jacobs, a child slave, endured unspeakable amounts of abuse growing up. Harriet lived in Edenton, North Carolina in the 1800s. Harriet lost her mother at very tender age.Â Margaret Horniblow her mistress cared for her after her mother passed. At the age of six Harriet learned how to read, write, and sew. However Jacob’s life changed when Horniblow her mistress died. Harriet ended up with Dr. James Norcom, a family member of Horniblow. Norcom sexually abused her at a young age. She was subjected to his cruelty, physical abuse and bearing illicit children for him. Norcom told Harriet, “I was made for his use, made to obey command in everything; that I was nothing but a slave, who will and must surrender to him.” When she refused to be repeatedly raped Norcom sent Harriet to the plantation. She worked from sunrise to sunset. Norcom resented Harriet so much that he imprisoned her children for no apparent reason. Working under very harsh and unsuitable conditions Jacobs ran away from the plantation. Hiding in a crawl space in her grandmother’s house for over a year Harriet became disabled.
In addition, slave children sometimes played games to cope with the traumatic events that happened in their lives. These games mirrored the events in their life. For instance: slave children would acts out certain scenes from their daily activities and exposure. They mimic their slave master and pretend to find favor from their master. These were their way of escaping painful ordeals.Â Child slaves differed from wealthy children they used their imagination to entertain themselves rather than relying on formal games. Child slaves used their imagination more by reason of freedom. They could use their imaginations to run freely to a certain extent.