The Life of a Slave in the 1800’s Life as a slave was very difficult. As many as 4. 5 million slaves were working in Southern plantations in the early to mid-1800’s. There were two types of slaves; field slaves and house slaves. People think that being a house slave was easier but this proves that theory wrong. Slaves had terrible environments, were separated from family and friends, and were sometimes beaten to death. Whites knew that slavery was wrong and immoral. Though, it still continued.
Being a field slave was not at all easy. A field slave worked from sunrise to sunset, but during harvest, they worked an eighteen-hour day. A field worker was out in the field when the first sign of light shone until it was too dark to see. Women field workers worked the same hours as men. Pregnant women were expected to work until the child was born, and after the child's birth the woman worked in the field with the child on her back. Field workers lived in tiny huts with dirt for a floor.
These small huts gave absolutely no protection against the cold winter winds. Slaves slept on rough blankets inside the hut. After a day on a cotton plantation the slaves got in a line to have their cotton weighed and receive their daily food. The minimum amount of cotton to be picked in one day was 200 pounds. At about the age of twelve a child's work became almost the same as an adult's. The field slaves were watched all day long by a white person with a whip. If they did not work up to the expectations, they were beaten and sometimes killed.
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A benefit of a field slave, however, was that slaves got Sundays off and maybe parts of Saturday unless it was during harvest. Most house slaves were living under better conditions than field workers. However, house slaves did not get Sunday off and usually attended church with their owners. House slaves cleaned, cooked, served meals, and took care of the children. Some house slaves lived in attics, closets, or corners in the big house even if their families lived in the quarters. A cook's day was long and hard.
A cook got up early in the morning to cook breakfast, and the day ended with cleaning up after dinner and gathering firewood for the next day. These slaves sometimes stole food from the owner. A house slave had a better opportunity to learn how to read and write. They often listened in on their owner's conversations so they were able to warn field slaves of the owner auctioning certain slaves and other important things. House slaves did many other things like waited on tables, washed, roned, took up and put down carpets, swept floors, dusted furniture, hoed and weeded gardens, and collected the chicken eggs. They also took care of the infants allowing the owner to do whatever they wanted. Although house slaves had more privileges, being a house slave was not much, if any easier than being a field worker. At the time, slaves were separated from their families and auctioned off to white families so that they could work as servants whether it was in the fields picking cotton and tobacco or working inside doing all of the house chores and practically raising the children.
Slaves were most likely to have been in a family where they were beaten horrendously if they did not meet the expectations that the white folks had for them. Back then, society looked at slaves like they weren’t fully human and shouldn’t be treated as one. Like anyone else would say, it is very safe to say that having a life of a slave in the 1800’s was not easy. WORKS CITED: http://library. thinkquest. org/CR0215086/dailylife. htm
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