Types of Labor Performed by Slaves in the South

A slave is a person who is forcefully compelled to work for another person. The act of forcing an individual to work for another individual is called slavery. Slavery existed in the United States of America during the colonial period. According to Hine, Hine and Harrold (2011), slavery was more prevalent in South America than in North America. Hopkinson (2010) also asserts that most African American slaves mainly worked in large cotton plantation between the eighteenth and nineteenth centuries. Hopkinson (2010) and Curtis (2009) argue that there were more slaves in the South due to the existence of large cotton plantations in which the slaves were forced to work in. Conversely, fewer slaves were found in the North because the North was opposed to slavery. This opposition to slavery led to the emergence of the Civil War between 1861 and 1866.

According to Hine, Hine and Harrold (2011), African Americans who worked as slaves in South America can be broadly categorized into two major groups; namely house slaves and field hands. House slave is a term used to refer to slaves who worked within homesteads or homes of their masters. House slaves were usually involved in performing household chores such as preparing and serving meals, washing utensils, fetching water and taking care of children of their masters.  In addition to carrying out household chores, house slaves were also involved in taking care of vegetable gardens within the homesteads. House slaves were usually trusty, dependable and very loyal to their masters (Hine, Hine & Harrold, 2011). Those who were chosen as house slaves were people with desirable and appealing behaviors or characters. House slaves were usually considered to bear less threat to their masters. Moreover, due to close relationships between house slaves and their masters, some masters treated house slaves as members of their families.

On the other hand, field hands were slaves who worked in farms or plantations. Field slaves were mainly involved in plowing, planting, chopping and harvesting of cotton and other crops.  Field hands were also involved stocking cotton and grains into granaries.  They were also responsible for looking after cattle or livestock. They were often seen with large herds of livestock of their masters. Moreover, field hands were also involved in butchering of animals. Occasionally, field hands also worked as drivers for their masters.

In addition to working in cotton plantations, some black slaves were also trained as craftsmen while a few others were also employed in factories and construction works (Hine, Hine & Harrold, 2011). Countable number of slaves worked in the mine fields.

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