Legal And Material Constraints On Slaves Essay examples

809 Words Nov 2nd, 2015 4 Pages
There were many legal and material constraints on slaves ' lives and work. For slaves, slavery meant perpetual labor, harsh discipline and constant anxiety that their families would be torn apart by sale. Slaves were, by law, the rightful property of their owners. Slaves could be bought and sold by their owners and had no say in the government. They were unable to testify against whites in court, own a firearm, hold meetings that were apart from whites, buy property, leave the plantation without permission and by the 1830s it was illegal for them to learn how to read and write. However, these laws were not enforced every time, the whole southern and governmental legal system was created to enforce the slave masters ' overall control. A few southern states passed laws that were meant to prevent slave abuse during the early nineteenth century, and their material conditions did turn around for the better. Most slaves increase the food that their owners provided by growing crops, raising animals, hunting and gathering. Paternalism contributed to slaves’ material improvements over time. Also, the increase in the prices of slaves made the planters take better care of their slaves ' health and well-being. However, slavery was much harder during this time because many states passed laws making it harder for owners to free their slaves and for slaves to purchase their own freedom. The status of free blacks was defined by slavery. Half a million free blacks lived in the U.S. by the…

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