Slavery In 1860: Life In The United States

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The life expectancy of enslaved people living on plantations was only 7-9 years. The labour force of plantations had to be renewed every decade as slaves had a high death rate; slaves were essentially worked to death. Large plantations operated as small villages. Men mostly were in the fields, pastures and gardens whilst women and children were to serve as domestics. Individuals were allocated jobs according to gender, age, colour, strength and birthplace. A slave could be killed for the murder, burglary, arson and assault upon a white person. Plantation owners believed that this severe discipline would make the slaves too scared to rebel. There was always the worry of rebellion on plantations as slaves usually outnumbered the white people. Despite the poor living conditions of the slaves, the enslaved African people kept their traditions and customs alive. Music and religion was a source of strength. In 1860 it was recorded that 4.5 million people of descent lived in the USA. Of that 4.5 million, 4 million of them were enslaved (held by 385000 African slave owners). Of the 4 million slaves, 3.6 million lived on farms and plantations. Of the 3.6 million plantation slaves, 1 million…show more content…
The task system allowed slaves to work at their chosen pace as long as they fulfilled their duties within the time allocated. This method was proven to be less brutal than the gang system and it is often thought the reason for this is that women were enslaved in the professions that operated under the task system. The work for the enslaved people proved to be the hardest was when the owners of plantations specialised in rice. Preparing the land for cultivation usually meant claiming marshlands or swampy regions. Slaves in the rice fields had to fight off snakes, alligators and vermin; slaves often had to fight off angry rodents. The water in the rice fields attracted mosquitoes and caused the slaves to catch multiple
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