The United States has many significant events which have taken place in history which has shaped the country it is today. African American people were forced to come to this country to build it up and make it the strong nation it is today. The slave trade forced many of our ancestors to develop coping strategies in order to deal with this oppression. Among these strategies there was religion and revolts. This oppression in turn impacted the United States as well as slaves in many ways.
The changes that would take place impacted slavery. The country was divided, the price of sales in the South increased, and The Emancipation Proclamation made it possible for slaves to fight their way to freedom. One of the slaves main coping strategy was religion. Slaves used song, dance and church to deal with their situation. Uplifting songs and dance were just some mechanisms to keep their spirits high. By singing songs that praised the lord, they felt that God guided them through their struggles of being in servitude. As slaves used song to raise their spirits, they also used songs to communicate to one another. The songs came with coded information.
Songs like “Wade in The Water” were warning escaping slaves to get off the trails and hide in the water to make sure the slave catchers dogs couldn’t sniff their trail. (Pathways to Freedom Maryland & the Underground Railroad, 2018). Dancing was also a way for slaves to escape what they were going through. It was apart of who they were.
Coming from Mother Africa, this was already in their blood. It was used as a form of entertainment for their masters also. Dancing wasn’t a form of relaxation or celebration for them but a way of crying out. The bible also helped slaves cope through those dark and gloomy years of their lives. The words were a powerful tool to help them keep faith and be strong even though they felt there was no escape. Slaves couldn’t wait for Sunday to come so they could worship and forget about the horrors they had to endure. When Sunday arrived, chores were finished quickly and being in the field wasn’t a thought. Getting ready to praise the lord was their escape from hell.
It was in the spirituals, above all, that the characters, themes, and lessons of the bible became dramatically real and took on special meaning for the slaves (Raboteau, 1992). Only a few slave owners would allow their slaves attend church. Others didn’t want the slaves getting any ideas that they were free.Many slaves revolted against the cruelty that was forced on them, causing an uprising gave them some sense of freedom. Slaves did small things to rebel against their oppressors. Breaking equipment, destroying property and refusing to eat were just some examples of these acts.
Slaves would also fake being sick, so they didn’t have to work. If women were with child for their masters, they would be protected from the harsh working conditions. The slaves would also dumb down their intelligence as an act not to listen to their masters instructions. Slaves would poison their masters as well, but rarely would they do this because it would lead to death, which only caused more problems for them. Another way slaves revolted was to runaway to escape punishment and heavy workloads. Slaves resisted the system of slavery through the formation of distinctive culture and through their beliefs, which kept hope alive in the face of such severe persecution (Vox, 2017).
Slaves derived coping strategies to assist in dealing with being enslaved but this situation also had a significant impact on the expansion of the United States. The prices of slaves increased as the need for land cultivation increased. With increased prices slaves were treated better and the birth rate grew.
Because there was so much productive farmland the need for slaves increased. The American farmers rationale was justified by the increase of raw land. The Emancipation Proclamation impacted slavery in a huge way allowing freed and runaway slaves to fight for their independence. In 1863 freed men fought alongside whites, this was because of the 16th President Abraham Lincoln. Embedded in the 13th Amendment, which officially freed all Americans, is a problematic loophole. Neither slavery nor involuntary servitude, except as a punishment for a crime whereof the party shall have been duly convicted, shall exist within the United States or any place subject to their jurisdiction (Buck, 2017).The way slaves were treated in many ways was unjust and inhumane but the impact of slavery has been an extremely controversial discussion among all of us. These events have created democracy and equal rights for all human beings.
Although I truly do not believe we will all be treated equally these horrific events have paved the way to freedom in more ways than one.