To What extent was Southern Slavery a system of ruthless exploitation?

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The use of African slaves in Southern America has largely been labelled as a ruthless exploitation of people’s lives. We have all heard of incidents where slaves were exploited physically, physically or emotionally. However, some aspects of this particular “institution” have been exaggerated. Whilst there are many sources claiming the detrimental effect of Slavery in America, there are also many sources which suggest that the Slavery system actually had a positive effect. Thus, Southern Slavery was a system of exploitation, but not to the extent which many abolitionists claim. Slavery in Southern America varied vastly between different masters. Some slaves were put through very harsh and demeaning experiences, such as the description of a slave named Francis Henderson in the book ‘A North-Side View of Slavery’. Francis was said to witness his master physically abusing his family right before his eyes. “I have known him to kick my aunt, an old woman who had raised the nursed him, and I have seen him punish my sisters awfully with hickories from the woods.” However, slavery in Southern America was usually patriarchal in character contrary to common belief; quite a big portion of slaves were regarded and considered to be part of the family to which they belonged. These slaves were treated with kindness and consideration, with strong emotional bonds between slave and owner. During the New Deal, President Roosevelt ordered journalists to interview former slaves and compile the data into a book, the slave narratives. The results of this study were quite shocking-there was not one slave out of the 2300 interviewed that proclaimed exploitation of themselves by their master. One of those slaves was a female called Millie Evans. In the recount of her life story, she described her life as joyful and her times as a slave ‘ Twas better livin back yonder than now”. Millie

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