This Species of Property: Slave Life and Culture in the Old South

By Leslie Howard Owens | Go to book overview

7
The Shadow of the Slave
Quarters

The social arena in which bondsmen of every station--field hands, domestics, drivers, artisans--came face to face was the slave quarters. Here slaves held center stage, and the larger the farm or plantation the greater the odds that the roles they played here would go largely unnoticed by many masters. The influence of the quarters was a strong one, difficult to measure in direct terms, but frequently an important factor shaping the quality of the slave's personality, his private life, and his bondage itself.

Although slaves generally lived in huts arranged tightly together around an open expanse of ground, the dwellings themselves varied greatly from plantation to plantation. A slave has left us with this vivid description of the slave quarters on one of the larger estates:

The houses that the slaves lived in were all built in a row, away from the big house. Just at the head of the street and between the cabins and the big house, stood the overseer's house. There was some forty or fifty of these two room cabins facing each other across an open space for a street. In them we lived. There was not much furniture. Just beds and a table and some stools or boxes to sit on. Each house bad a big fire-place for beat and cooking. 1

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This Species of Property: Slave Life and Culture in the Old South
Table of contents

Table of contents

  • Title Page iii
  • Preface vii
  • Contents ix
  • Introduction 3
  • 1 - Drawing the Color Line 7
  • 2 - into the Fields-- Life, Disease, and Labor in the Old South 19
  • 3 - Blackstrap Molasses and Cornbread--Diet and Its Impact on Behavior 50
  • 4 - The Logic of Resistance 70
  • 5 - The Household Slave 106
  • 6 - The Black Slave Driver 121
  • 7 - The Shadow of the Slave Quarters 136
  • 8 - The Rhythm of Culture 164
  • 9 - A Family Folk 182
  • 10 - This Property is Condemned 214
  • Manuscript Sources 227
  • Notes 237
  • Index 285
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