Born in Bondage: Growing Up Enslaved in the Antebellum South by Marie Jenkins Schwartz

By Marie Jenkins Schwartz

Every time a baby used to be born in bondage, the process of slavery all started anew. even if raised through their mom and dad or via surrogates within the slave group, teenagers have been eventually topic to the guideline in their proprietors. Following the lifestyles cycle of a kid from start via formative years to younger maturity, Marie Jenkins Schwartz explores the daunting global of slave little ones, a global ruled by means of the twin authority of guardian and proprietor, every one with conflicting agendas. regardless of the consistent threats of separation and the need of submission to the slaveowner, slave households controlled to move on crucial classes approximately enduring bondage with human dignity. Schwartz counters the widely held imaginative and prescient of the paternalistic slaveholder who determines the lifestyles and welfare of his passive chattel, displaying as an alternative how slaves struggled to provide their kids a feeling of self and belonging that denied the landlord whole keep watch over. Born in Bondage offers us an unsurpassed examine what it intended to develop up as a slave within the antebellum South. Schwartz recreates the stories of those certain yet resilient youth as they discovered to barter among acts of submission and selfhood, among the worlds of commodity and group.

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Extra resources for Born in Bondage: Growing Up Enslaved in the Antebellum South

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Fanny Kemble Butler’s efforts to improve the situation of slave women on her husband’s estate were short-lived, for she and Pierce stayed less than four months in the South. 9 The need of pregnant women for relief from arduous work was not feigned. Slave women suffered frequently from gynecological problems, a situation that Fanny Kemble Butler documented in her diary. “A great many of the women are victims to falling of the womb,” she wrote. Auger, the mother of five children, surprised Fanny by complaining of menstrual flooding and intolerable backaches.

11 Copyright © 2000 The President and Fellows of Harvard College BIRTH OF A SLAVE 25 Ex a m Co py The protection of extended family and friends was crucial since pregnant women did not live always with the expectant father. Sale or death separated some spouses; other couples lived on separate slaveholdings, particularly in the upper South where the small size of many slaveholdings prevented men and women from finding suitable partners on the home estate. Young women who entered into sexual liaisons with men on other plantations and farms and who were carrying their first child often lived with their parents rather than in a separate cabin, which allowed the parents to assume the role of protector.

Midwifery involved more than simply knowing the physiology of childbirth. It also called for maturity of judgment. Knowing when to let nature take its course and when to call in a physician called for wisdom, as did the need to satisfy both the slave and the slaveholder. Slaves imparted knowledge of folk medicine, including midwifery, from one generation to another. Jeanette Chaney, who practiced midwifery in Alabama, bore thirteen children and possessed a knowledge of herbal medicine, which she may have learned from her husband’s family.

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