African American Studies – Essays

2) Examples
Couldn’t vote
Had to meet strenuous criteria whites didn’t have to deal with
Couldn’t be US citizens
Segregated from whites which caused discrimination
2) How did region affect freedom
In the North, free blacks faced black codes
In the South, free blacks needed to carry free papers and renew them periodically, but even then they were still sold as slaves to pay the cost of imprisoning them
In numbers, there were very few free blacks in the Deep South. The ones that were free tended to identify with their masters (they were usually mixed or skilled)
2) What institutions did free black people create and how effective were these institutions at improving the lives of black people
In the north, free blacks could still meet and congregate, so they formed a network of black churches, which branched off from white churches (African American Methodist Episcopal Church) Black churches were important for serving as educational purposes and antislavery meeting places
Blacks created mutual aid societies throughout the north, which focused on a number of different issues. The Brown Fellowship Society was an example
To strengthen the black community and spread their sentiments, many made newspapers (black institutions)
Many of these institutions provided humanitarian relief, aided the homeless, helped orphans, and promoted literacy, temperance, and morality
They were successful institutions because they were completely voluntary and did a good job uniting the black community
3) Compare and contrast ______ quests for abolition
John Brown
Denmark Vesey
Nat Turner
3) John Brown
White abolitionist who used violence to fight slavery. He murdered slaveholdeers in Kansas and Missouri before his raid at Harper’s Ferry, hoping to incite a slave rebellion
Although he failed, his Bleeding Kansas pushed the country into a civil war and frightened the South
He believed that God wanted him to lead slave rebellion, and that his actions would spark more antislavery movements that would eventually end slavery
3) Denmark Vesey
Caribbean slave that eventually purchased his freedom and created one of the potentially largest slave rebellions in the US. He only trusted ______ to join his rebellion, but his plan was never enacted due to a traitor in the group
3) Nat Turner
Black American slave who led a group of slaves to kill their slaveholders and families. His rebellion killed 60 white people, directly rejected the Sambo idea about black men, and got whites in Virginia so scared of blacks that they wanted to end slavery
He believed that God wanted him to lead slave rebellion, and that his actions would spark more antislavery movements that would eventually end slavery
3) Which man was most successful in bringing about his goals
John Brown was the most successful in bringing about his goals for his rebellion. Although Harper’s Ferry didn’t kill as many people as the Nat Turner Rebellion, Brown’s act brought about more abolitionist activity and general discontent. Because Brown was white, it set a powerful image in itself. On the otherhand, because Nat Turner was black and executed, it sent a brutal message to other blacks of what could happen to them if they rebelled and reinforced that they were property
4) How did women’s rights, black rights, and abolition intersect
Black women created many antislavery fund raising organizations and these women inspired feminism by creating awareness that women had rights and interests that a male-dominated society had to recognize
4) Examples
4) What specific resources did women bring to the table
4) What problems did black women such as Maria Stewart face in the struggle for abolition
Black women like Maria Stewart were often considered not fit to lead for anti-slavery because of their gender. Stewart gave speeches and wrote essays against slavery and promoted educational and economic self sufficiency. She was the first black woman or woman of any color to speak on political issues in public. She was constantly condemned for speaking publicly as well for her views. Although her career was short, she set the stage for other women speakers like Sojourner Truth, Harriet Tubman, and Ellen Watkins Harper
4) What motivated black people to become ablotionists
Many runaways who suffered under slavery and finally became free wanted to free others that were suffering under the same fate
Slavery dehumanized many slaves and made it dangerous for free black men since they could still be kidnapped and sold back into slavery
Blacks would also continue to be viewed within the confines of slavery as long as it was still in place
4) Were black people significant in the abolition movement
Blacks were successful, because they were able to give first-hand accounts of what it was like to be a slave. Narratives form Frederick Douglass and _______ and the American Anti-Slavery Society (AASS) sending people, sometimes former slaves, to tell their stories, opened the eyes of whites and elite blacks alike to the hardships encountered with slavery
4) What motivated white people to become abolitionists
Most whites became abolitionists, because they wanted a truly all-white country and wanted blacks to return to Africa. Some also believed that slavery was immoral, while others believed it was uneconomical
4) Were white people significant in the abolition movement
Whites made other whites open their eyes to slavery. For example, John Brown, a white man, was willing to lay his life down for the ending of slavery. More white people had the means to spread the word of abolition to America because they had more rights and more access to publications, business, and the public sphere
4) Why was there so much anti-abolitionist sentiment in the northern and western states and territories
The white Americans’ embrace of an exuberant nationalism called Manifest Destiny contributed to this trend. This doctrine basically held that white people were a superior race culturally, physically, economically, politically and intellectually
5) How did the lives of enslaved women resemble those of enslaved men
5) How did the lives of enslaved women differ from those of enslaved men
5) Why does Gray White assert that community was more important for black women than for black men
Gray White asserts that community was more important for black women, because they were more likely to stay together on plantations rather than black men, so they supported and relied on each other to survive. They used their communities as a means of protection and strength, communication, and a way of passing traditions
5) Examples
Male presence tended to be lacking, so females relied on themselves and each other for strength and support
Close living quarters resulted in the ability to talk and bond
5) How did women resist slavery differently from men
Truancy was a common form of resistance, because although they wanted to escape, they didn’t want to just outright flee for fear of leaving their family and other emotional ties that they formed
Fake pregnancies
5) Why do you believe that the study of women in slavery isn’t as well developed as the study of men in slavery
6) How did ________ affect the abolitionist debate
Anthony Burns
Margaret Garner
Henry Highland Garnet
David Walker
6) Anthony Burns
Fugitive who was tried in the Boston region under the Fugitive Slave Act
It raised the topic of the Fugitive Slave Act in the abolitionist debates, and as a result Burns was freed by Boston sympathizers
6) Celia
Slave that beat her master with a club, because she was being sexually exploited. She claimed the devil got into her
It raised the topic of justifying murder and if slaves have the right to do what she had done. The answer was no, and as a result she was hanged
6) Margaret Garner
Black slave woman who killed her daughter (slit her throat) to prevent her from living life out as a slave
6) Henry Highland Garnet
Free black prominent abolitionist who believed in political action against slavery
6) David Walker
Published his appeal to the colored citizens of the world, especially those in the US, and called for black unity against the institution of slavery. This invoked and persuaded more abolitionists of his time
6) Were all of them abolitionists themselves
Anthony Burns and Margaret Garner weren’t abolitionists but Henry Highland Garnet was
7) Why are Jacob Vanderpool, Dred Scott, and Mary Ellen Pleasant important in understanding the Black American experience
Jacob Vanderpool showed that blacks were discriminated against and demeaned for the sheer reason of being black
Dred Scott specifically defined what black people were. It defined them as property to their white masters, and slaves were protected as property to their masters
Mary Ellen Pleasant showed that many blacks looked to running away to resist slavery
7) Jacob Vanderpool
The only man to be considered a criminal because he was black. In Oregon, it was outlawed to be black and people would be whipped until they would leave
7) Dred Scott
A Missouri slave who had been taken to work in free territory for a few years. Upon returning, he sued for his freedom, saying that since he lived in free territory, he was thus a free man
Ruling: Scott couldn’t sue in court because blacks weren’t citizens, and the 5th amendment protected slaveholders from being deprived of their property
7) Mary Ellen Pleasant
She funded many abolitionist activities and helped maintain the Underground Railroad. She was called the “The Mother of Human Rights in California”. The Underground Railroad was an incredibly dangerous passage , but with her help, Mary Ellen showed to the African people that running away was a great form of resistance
7) More generally how does the western U.S fit into the study of American slavery
The western territories were considered free soil, because they wanted the west to be as white as possible and as free as possible from blacks. They believed that slavery must be kept out of the western territories to preserve northern free labor
7) Make sure to consider __________
Kansas, Texas, Utah, Oklahoma, California, Oregon
7) Kansas
In the Kansas-Nebraska act, Kansas was allowed to vote on slavery by popular sovereignty. People from other states entered Kansas illegally to skew the vote, and border ruffians from Missouri in particular came to vote proslavery. At a time of unrest, the state became known as Bleeding Kansas
7) Texas
7) Utah
Utah had slavery for political reasons. They didn’t want slavery nor the slaves, but they did want to be able to have polygamy
7) Oklahoma
Similar to Kansas, both Confederate and Union supporters were in Oklahoma territory, which sparked one of the most bloody civil wars. Oklahoma was also American Indian territory, and some American Indians were slaveholders and slave catchers
7) California
Since California was a free state, it created debate because many slave masters brought their slaves to the state due to the gold rush
7) Oregon
Oregon was heavy on exclusion codes and made being black illegal
8) How did enslaved people create cultures in the context of the plantations
Enslaved people sang hymnals and created folklore to create community and a unique culture all to themselves. The story of Brer Rabbit taught children the meaning of cunning and how sneakiness would help them to survive slavery. Religious ceremonies created the focal point of slave culture, and was centered on the figure of Moses and the deliverance. Wedding ceremonies, though usually informal, made marriage a goal for slaves. Marriage was important for slaves because it allowed the formation of families, even though these families were not officially recognized. Establishment of culture created a sense of hope and humanism for the enslaved people
8) How was urban slavery different from plantation slavery
Many urban slaves developed skills that allowed them to work domestically, taking on positions like blacksmiths and carpenters
Urban slaves had more freedom of movement than plantation slaves and generally had greater opportunities for learning
Urban slavers also had increased contact with free black people and had a higher chance of being freed
8) How did housing, nutrition, and disease affect people in plantation slavery
Nutrition wasn’t ideal for people in plantation slavery. The lack of nutrition and proper medical care reduced the reproduction rate. Children had a high death rate along with mothers who didn’t receive proper medical treatment before, during, and after pregnancy. Many slave women had upwards of ten children and statistically, about half wouldn’t survive to adulthood. Slaves were given meager rations, just enough to maintain body weight, yet this didn’t satisfy nutritional needs. Slaves did not live as long because of this
9) What exactly did the Emancipation Proclamation do and exactly what did it not do
The Emancipation Proclamation did NOT free all slaves. (The 13th amendment achieved that feat) The Emancipation Proclamation was however a critical and crucial step to free all slaves, because it declared that all slaves living in states that weren’t under Union control were free.
9) What was significant about the Emancipation Proclamation for free and enslaved black people
Many slaves after the Emancipation Proclamation refused to work for their masters anymore and ran to Union lines. This undermined everything the Confederacy stood for, because the labor force they relied on now broke apart and ran and any outside foreign support was officially cut off
9) How (specifically) did the South respond to the Emancipation Proclamation
Jefferson Davis, president of the confederate states of America, issued the Enslavement Proclamation, which said that any black person captured would be enslaved
10) How would you counter the argument that black people had nothing to do with the Civil War on the northern side
The North side had many Northern black people participating as actual soldiers
10) Example
The 54th Massachusetts Regiment was the most famous all black infantry regiment of Northern free volunteers in the Civil War, which showed that black men could and were willing to fight
10) How would you counter the argument that black people had nothing to do with the Civil War on the southern side
10) Example
1) Define resistance in the context of slavery in ante-bellum America
Resistance meant to sabotage and oppose the institution of slavery
1) How did enslaved people resist
Running away was the most common act of resistance among enslaved people because it was free of direct punishment. By running away, slaveholders lost capital and possible profit that would’ve come from the slave’s labor. Running away also disproved the Sambo stereotype, because the slave wouldn’t have ran away if they were truly master loving
Suicide was another means of resistance, but was again more common to men than women, because they had more to lose with their relationships. This act was also detrimental to the slave owner because of loss of profit
1) How common was resistance to slavery
Resistance was very common and could happen everyday. Feigning sickness, playing the lady, breaking tools, refusing to have children, truancy, and contaminating food were all day-by-day methods of resistance that women in particular had. Although not big, they effectively carried slaves through their hardships
1) What were the most successful methods of resistance
Running away because it was devoid of punishment
1) What were the least successful methods of resistance
Having kids because it tied the woman to slavery and couldn’t leave or escape as easiliy
2) How was freedom for black people different than freedom for white people in the antebellum US
Although blacks were free, they still had limited rights compared to whites
Blacks faced Jim Crow laws and black codes, which were restrictions that whites didn’t have to face

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