U.S. History/slavery


So, I've got some idea of what the answer is, but my teacher just will not help me out! The question is: examine the black family and black religion.  Consider how slavery affected both white and black views of women and family.
I already know that the slaves definitely were religious, as much as they could be anyway. I also know that they weren't allowed to be taught to read and write. I know that the slave women would be entrusted to take care of the slaveowner's children.  
What I do not understand about this assignment is the part that says to consider how slavery affected the white and black views of women and family.  
The Southern whites, I know, favored slavery, well most of them.  I know that about 3/4 of the southern white population did not own slaves though, which gets me all confused.  I really just don't understand the second part of the assignment.

Thank you for your time.

Hi Sarah,

I'm not sure myself what your teacher may want here.  Like today, views on women and family vary greatly by community and even individuals within a community.  While some of those generally held views differ generally views of today, I'm not really sure the existence of slavery was the cause of them.  For example, In the early 19th Century, there was a strong prevailing sexist view that women were inferior to men and should take a more subservient role in society.  But that was a view that was held much more commonly at the time around the world, in countries that had slavery and those that did not.  The view was even common among some leading abolitionists.  So I cannot say that slavery really affected those views.

Africans who were shipped into slavery were most commonly Muslim.  They were not permitted to practice Islam in slavery.  Most masters shared with them the same Protestant Christianity that they practiced themselves.  Although most slaves were illiterate, they often had the Bible read to them.  A particularly popular book for the slaves was Exodus (story about a prophet called by God to lead a group of people from slavery and into a new land flowing with milk and honey).

Slaves were often an integral part of the family.  Many wealthier families with many slaves often had a personal servant who was closer to them than almost anyone else.  Children sometimes had a slave child of the same age who grew up with them.  While there was a clear inequality in the relationship, they often became very close and thought of one another as family.  Many actually were family as many male slave owners had children with their slaves, making slaves of their own children.  So the institution of slavery helped meld these black and white families into a cohesive group.  After slavery ended, these groups pushed apart, with black laborers usually not living with the white families and prevented by strict segregation laws from spending much of any time together outside of work.

I hope this helps!
- Mike  

U.S. History

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Michael Troy


I can answer just about any question on early American History. My specialties are the American Revolution through the Civil War/Reconstruction. I also have greater expertise in matters relating to military, political or legal history.


I have lectured at George Washington University regarding the Civil War, as well as several elementary school Civil War demonstrations. I was also a member of a Civil War reenactment group for about 10 years.


J.D. University of Michigan B.A. George Washington University

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Truman Scholar

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