Structural Violence In The Antebellum Movement

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David G. Gil, a Professor Emeritus of Social Policy at Brandeis University, theorizes that throughout history people have been motivated to evolve, maintain and modify their lifestyles in order to fulfill their basic needs. In order for this to happen, Gil explains that there are six needs that need to be fulfilled. These six needs include, biological materials, social-psychological, productive creative, security, self-actualization and spiritual needs (27). When any of these necessities are denied, structural violence ensues upon those effected. During the Antebellum period, from the years 1789 to 1861, blacks were enslaved and felt the repercussions of not having access to their basic human needs. Slaves were living in an environment that …show more content…
Having grown up during the antebellum period, specifically in the 1780’s, and having had first hand experience of structural violence as a slave, Gabriel’s mind was influenced by the American Revolution, the Uprising in Saint Domingue and the success of free blacks (PBS 1). He had witnessed the oppressed successfully fight their oppressors and believed that if he could get the slaves to rise up and fight then the poor whites would join in with the slave’s cause. Within weeks of planning, Gabriel’s theory proved correct and his revolt reached out to towns all over Virginia. Gabriel had planned the most far reaching revolt ever in US history (1). Because of it’s enormity, slaves, free blacks, white workers, Frenchmen and militant abolitionists joined in to fight against the Southern slave holders (1). On Saturday August 30th, 1800 the slaves set out to change their unfortunate circumstances, but a downpour began and the plan was moved to the following day (The Library of Virginia 1). Not being able to handle the pressure, two slaves told their masters of their plan. Patrolmen and state militia began searching for the rebel slaves and send about 30 to jail to await trial in the court of “Oyer and Terminer”; which was a special court in which slaves were tried without the benefit of a jury. Despite the …show more content…
The insurrection took place during a time where the Democrats, Republicans and Federalists needed to address the importance of liberty. They looked at the legacies of French, American and Haitian Revolutions (The Library of Virginia 1) in order to find guidance for their own future. The slaves wanted to free themselves but the Government was looking to contain their lives even more in order to prevent another uprising. The Virginia Assembly decided to create even stricter laws for slaves; they could not be hired out to other plantations and freed blacks must leave the state within twelve months or they will be brought back into slavery (Boundless 1). The insurrection made Southern white slave owners believe in the fact that slaves lean towards rebellion and resistance “if not forcibly contained and controlled” (1). Given the political atmosphere at the time, Virginia residents and Federalists were terrified and did their best to “turn the conspiracy into a partisan issue” (Egerton 212). The debates surrounding the slaves began to heat up when northern states called on Southern states to wake up and end slavery (212) because the current system was not sustainable. The Boston Gazette said “it must be an insurrection of their slaves” (212) in order to correct the structure of society. Gil says

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