Why devaluate your investment?

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Why would slaveholders, who paid from $100 to $1,000 for slaves and their offspring choose to undernourish, underclothe and constantly physically abuse the "property" that was going to aid in their source of income? Was the abuse that widespread as we are lead to believe by Douglass, or was it a tool of the abolitionist movement such as "Uncle Tom's Cabin"?

-- Anonymous, February 06, 2000


I have asked myself this same question. Why would the slaveholders treat their own property so severely, even going so far as to murder slaves. I think I have a reasonable explaination. The slaveholders knew that the slaves where capable of thought beyond their animals so they had to take every bit of identity away from them in order to protect their investment. They saw the mistreatment of their slaves as a means to control rather than as destruction of "property." If the slaves where to somehow be allowed to feel human in any way they would perhaps realize their situation and rebel. At one point Douglass mentions that if it were not for the whip, slavery may not have existed. When you have your identity and dignity taken way as the slaves did, their vulnerability prevents them from rebellion. We have examples of this today in the military all though not to the extreme nature of slavery. When a person goes to boot camp his or her identity is taken away and that person is given a new identity. By taking away the new recruits identity the drill instuctors gain control and that is exactly why the slaveholders mistreated the slaves as they did. It was an effort to control and supress the slaves identity as humans allowing them greater control over their slaves and therby actually securing their income.

-- Anonymous, February 07, 2000

First off, I would have to say that in my opinion, I believe that there was an unspeakable amount abuse to the slaves. I think that the slaveholders felt that if they did not abuse their slaves that they would have no control over them at all, and I think that they were very scared that if they didn't seem to have total control that the slaves might turn it around on them. I think that was their way of showing their strength and power.

-- Anonymous, February 11, 2000

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