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Views on Slavery in Gaskell’s North and South

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A lot of the white settler’s views on slavery were based on where they resided: the south or north. The south contained a lot more slavery as they were a lot less strict with their views on the slaves and how they treated them. Due to these strict rules, some slaves were triggered to rebel. This was shown through a slave, Nat Turner. Nat Turner was a preacher and slave who sowed fields. One night he took a hatchet to his owner and led many other African American men around the neighborhood doing the same to many others. He believed this was his calling to lead his people to freedom. This uprising was said to have illustrated the discontent and agitation that most slaves had in the south. Due to this huge event, it strengthened the slave system and made the white people of Virginia take legislative measure. These rebellions also influenced changes in master’s views on their slaves.

Rebecca Felton was a woman who owned several slaves. She viewed her slaves as just another item to deal with in her responsible, busy life and that they were often passive and lazy. Felton wrote that, “The African in the slave-holding states did not rise up in defense of democracy or human freedom when the Federal armies of the North had overrun and subjugated the slave-owning Southern Confederacy” (Ripper, 2008, 227) She saw African Americans as not having the effort or ability to fight for their own freedom. Although Felton had these thoughts and views on slaves she eventually gained insight and suggested that holding people as slaves were not right. She viewed that if there were no slaves than there would be no war.

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In the North slavery was a lot less acceptable slaves, and this was partially due to slaves constantly striving for freedom. They were able to gain freedom, as shown through Solomon’s life. Slaves were able to have, “marriage, sometimes separate-if-meager incomes, specialized skills, dances, unique medical practices, churches to attend, and more.” (Ripper, 2008, p.232). Solomon was a slave in the North but had many other benefits and accessibilities than slaves in the South. He was still able to have a life alongside his normal slave duties. This was a lot different than slaves in the south, as they had minimal rights and freedoms.

The views on slavery were a lot different in the North vs the South and this greatly influenced how quickly white settler’s views changed on the topic.


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