Slavery’s institution sheds light on numerous aspects of the South that include the sociological and cultural elements that shaped society. Plantations and slavery expose the demographics and economic benefits slavery rendered. However, it came as a cost as millions of Africans were dehumanized and forced to forfeit the culture and life they had under a tyrannical rule of white supremacy. By considering various aspects of slaves in the South, one can deduce the gravity and repercussions slavery had in shaping culture.
In the development of the South, most of the slaveholdings were concentrated in the lower South. In particularly, areas like Mississppi had a large number of slaves. Within the slave population were communities that worked on plantations. While many of the plantations were fairly small in number, some regions developed fairly large institutions. Many of these larger plantations were in regions in Louisiana. According to census data about 1.0 million slaves worked on plantations (“Plantation Life”). The website also mentions a rice plantation in South Carolina that had around 1000 slaves (“Plantation Life”). That being understood, it becomes clear that slavery and plantations were run in a sensitive and business-like manner.
As the map shows, the economy of the plantation was largely intended for monetary profit. Slaves were typically retrieved through a grim process referred to as “slave auctions.” They were stripped of their clothing and closely examined. More often than not, they were separated from their families. Slaves sent to plantations worked in self-contained environments. Each slave had duties meant for economic efficiency so plantation owners could use the least possible slaves to accomplish the job. To incentive hard work, they would often whip or establish guidelines and punishments for behavior. One plantation is described as the “planter’s house, overseer’s residence, task-defined outbuildings, and minimal slave quarters. He details the regimented work routines of the enslaved blacks, noting the skilled craftsmen among them who fashioned most of the farming equipment. He lists the punishments meted out by the overseer that were barbarous in the extreme” (“Plantation Life”). In establishing an enclosed institution, it ensured efficiency while simultaneously dehumanizing slaves and preventing them from forming bonds that might insight them to rebel against the slaveholders.
The structure of the plantations is particularly telling in how they influence the culture as a whole. Since the plantations were self-contained, it was difficult for a real culture to develop. After being separated from family and loved ones, slaves were removed from their roots and home. In a large way this enabled white slave owners to maintain order by taking advantage of slaves’ lost identity. The daily life for slaves was quite grim. Unfortunately, recording of enslaved peoples life is limited as their vocal agency was restricted. There were several different types of slaves that ranged from plantation laborer, servants, shipyard workers, and boatmen. For men, manual labor was difficult and masters were often unreasonable and relentless. For women working in the house sexual abuse was fairly commonplace. Resistance was immediately shut down and the master-slave relationship was generally hostile at best.
All these things considered, the life of a slave and the institution of slavery was entirely disagreeable to the victims of slavery. The institution’s inhumane principle was based on reaping economic benefits with systematic developments intended to benefit at the expense of slaves. For this reason, the consequences of slavery and plantations continue to be relevant today.