Stereotypes Of A Happy Slave

One of the main stereotypes promoted by these documents is the idea of a happy slave. They were portrayed as overgrown children who had to to be guided by their masters. George Fitzhugh believed that without enslavement Blacks would, “freeze or starve”. Furthermore, he and Hammond believed that “the negro race is inferior to the white race”. Unsurprisingly, these stereotypes even included some sort of biological basis to explain the condition of slaves. Dr. Cartwright believed that drapetomania was a disease unique to the slaves that caused them to run away. According to Cartwright unless the slaves were “frightened or panic-struck”, they would become “sulky and dissatisfied” before they ran away. The cure was to whip “the devil out of them.” …show more content…
Thus, ‘free negroes’ were particularly prone to the skin lesions not as commonly seen in slaves. The slaves who were prone to mischief did not do so intentionally, rather they were victims of this disease. Ruffian believed that the mental inferiority of slaves "prevented high grades of intellect” even in the North where they had access to schools and colleges. Fitzhugh justified the institution of slavery with his idea that the slaves were overgrown children in need of constant supervision and care from the plantation owners. He believed that their inability to take care of themselves required the White plantation owners to help the Blacks through the institution of slavery. Their inferiority also ensured that they would not be able to survive in the competitive free world. Therefore, in order to prevent them from dying of starvation and severe weather, they needed to be slaves. According to Cartwright, this position of White superiority was god given. The slave had to be taught his position of "the submissive knee-bender" both by kindness as well as by punishment when required. Hammond believed that the sole purpose of the Black people was to be slaves. He justified …show more content…
In reality, they had grown so accustomed to the life of comfort and idleness that they projected that onto the slaves who lived miserable lives. The abolitionists terrified them, as they were fully aware that the slaves would choose their freedom over being subdued on plantations. It is very ironic that while the proponents of slavery perceived these slaves to lack intellect and be childlike, they trusted them to raise their children. Thus, white children and their black enslaved nannies faced a unique situation. The children inherited these nannies as part of their estate and the enslaved nannies had to raise their future masters. Furthermore, the fact that many black women slaves were speaking out about their experiences of being sexually assaulted and raped probably caused them to worry incessantly. Thus, they convinced themselves that these were people who deserved to be enslaved. They used everything from religion to natural law to justify their doings. When all is said and done these were the words of men who were scared of the future devoid of slavery and the resulting profit. Thus, they even reasoned that slaves were more happy and free because of being

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