slavery in maryland
The end of the war brought a spirit of hope to the people in the country. The state of Maryland responded with new projects and reform throughout the state. Along with the political and social reforms came reform in agriculture, one of Maryland's main economic resources. However, agriculture is closely tied with slavery. The slavery system at this time grew more humane in comparison with the previous eras (235). With a seemingly more lenient system, Maryland earned its reputation as having a mildly abusive system. This doesn't mean that abuse didn't occur. Those enchained under the system in Maryland still suffered physical, mental, and even sexual abuses.
Although slavery may have seemed like a part of a political program to help the economics of the state, the reality of it is abuse and suffering. Overall, Maryland did live up to its reputation of a middle temperament state in terms of slavery. "Maryland law limited the master to ten lashes, prohibited him from abusing slaves, and required him to supply blacks…with adequate food, clothing, shelter, and rest" (236). However, limited abuse does not equate to absence of abuse. There were many shocking accounts of brutal physical abuse in the state. One slave recalls his master who considered "whipping as essential to the good of the soul as the body" (237). It was the only method of control and authority that the owners had over their slaves. In one incidence, there was a master who forced an old woman to stay outside and search for the sheep that she had lost. She was later found frozen to death outside (236). The masters were often insensitive to the humanness of the slaves. There was another account of "a southern Maryland master who would walk behind slaves as they picked tobacco worms and make them eat any they had missed" (236). There was a witness who described "the seven blacks who took turns standing at the bow breaking river ice with long wooden clubs. Each stint left them exhausted and covered with frozen splashes" (239). Although the males usually suffered greatly, the abuse of the women slaves were also horrific. "One plantation mistress…would sometimes attack her [the slave]….'with shovel, tongs, or whatever other weapon lay within her reach…" (236). There were also reports of owners who force 'bred' their slaves, "fastening" them together until a future slave was made (238). Women were vulnerable to sexual abuses, such as countless rapes by the white male owners. One child that resulted from a forced intercourse was Frederick Douglass, one of the most influential freed slaves of his time. When he described his time under his owner Lloyd, the story was not completely reflective of the sufferings that have been described of slavery, especially those in the South. As a slave, he "played with one of the Lloyd children, ran errands for the master's family, and enjoyed the 'gala days' when slaves from all the Lloyd farms gathered to collect their monthly allowances of cornmeal and pork." (187). However, in spite of this exception, the reality of the inhumane treatment remains evident in the accounts told above. As long as the state instituted the slavery system, abuse was inevitable.
Although Maryland was a state that had legalized slavery, their stance on the issue did not necessarily completely reflect their reputation as a middle temperament due to the abuse that existed. In the midst of the growing prosperity, the institution of slavery prevailed along with the characteristic abuses and cruel punishment.
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