Slavery in Texas

AN EMPIRE FOR SLAVERY In the book, “An Empire for Slavery”, Randolph B. Clark describes the way in which Texas slaves coped with life under oppressive circumstances. Some of the topics discussed in the book include how slaves approached daily chores and provided for their material and physical condition. Also, it is demonstrated how slaves tended to their psychological and spiritual well being and how they displayed their feelings towards this “Peculiar Institution.” Some slaves in Texas approached responsibility for work in such a manner that they were given a great deal of leeway for their own daily job assignments and were even given supervisory positions over other slaves. Some bondsman, working as managers, tended to plantations and farms in the absence of the owners. This practice is quite remarkable when we sometimes visualize a slave as a blackman with a chain and heavy ball attached to one foot. The conception of manager slaves apparently was propagated in such an encompassing manner that some proponents of slavery found it to be very disconcerting. Some slave owners felt too much liberty was being given to the interned hoard. In 1858, state senator Henry E. McCulloch introduced a bill to outlaw the practice. The bill passed, but had little effect because it had little support in the white community. Some blacks, if not managers, were more in the order of middle managers known as “drivers.” Drivers were specialty supervisors who oversaw operations related to “chopping” cotton (cultivating), plowing, planting and harvesting. As slavery progressed many slaves graduated to other jobs that required a different degree of responsibility, such as carpenters, blacksmiths, personal valets, and housekeepers and the like. So it would appear bondsmen were perfectly capable of accomplishing any task given to them by their tormentors. Material conditions and physical treatment of slaves can be broken down into f…

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