Academic journal article The Virginia Magazine of History and Biography

Born in Bondage: Growing Up Enslaved in the Antebellum South

Academic journal article The Virginia Magazine of History and Biography

Born in Bondage: Growing Up Enslaved in the Antebellum South

Article excerpt

Born in Bondage: Growing up Enslaved in the Antebellum South. By MARIE JENKINS SCHWARTZ. Cambridge, Mass.: Harvard University Press, 2000. xii, 272 pp. $35.00 cloth.

ALTHOUGH scholars have written much about slaves and slavery over the last thirty years, few have paid close attention to the group comprising at least half of the slave population by the end of the antebellum period: children. For that reason alone, Schwartz's book is a welcome addition. But while adding generally to the scholarship, Schwartz also provides an analysis based on what she perceives as the different stages of childhood.

Chapter by chapter, Schwartz describes the stages and notes the events that marked a child's passage from one stage to another. The first stage ended upon being weaned. The next stage lasted until the child was able "to obey and to serve" (p. 14). During the middle years (eight to twelve years old), children began to work in earnest, though still some distance from being classified as full hands. They became full-fledged workers during their mid-teens, experienced greater chances of being sold, and suffered greater risks for being sexually exploited. The short, end stage began with courtship, and marriage and parenting followed quickly.

Schwartz makes clear (from the outset) that she focuses to some extent on parents because young children do not care for themselves. She also looks at these children through the lens of paternalism because it was the system in which parents had to rear these children. …

Search by... Author
Show... All Results Primary Sources Peer-reviewed

Oops!

An unknown error has occurred. Please click the button below to reload the page. If the problem persists, please try again in a little while.