Facts On African Hierarchy Of Slaves
The history of policing can be traced back to the days of slavery in colonial America. In the South, where slavery was central to the economy, slave patrols, responsible for capturing runaway slaves and returning them to their masters, was the first unofficial police in America. Considering how slavery itself was one of the most egregious treatments of mankind in human history, slave patrols were especially cruel in the ways they captured runaway slaves and punished them for their daring escapes. Slave rebellions were a constant threat to the economic status quo of the southern plantation owners, and slave patrols ensured that these owners were able to intimidate and punish any insurgencies or revolts. In return, these wealthy plantation owners protected the interests of the slave catchers. As a result, this practice created a social hierarchy between the wealthy landowners at the top, the slave patrols separating the wealthy from the poor, and the slaves who were at the bottom of this hierarchy.
facts on african hierarchy of slaves
Slaves sat at the bottom of the social hierarchy. Almost 4 million African Americans were enslaved by 1860, most through natural increase. Prices for slaves had risen steadily over the years, and the average field hand cost between $1,500 and $2,000 before the war. The high cost of slaves tempered the harshest treatment. Their value demanded at least the minimum of care from slave owners. Most slaves worked on plantations as field hands. Others worked in the house as servants, and a few chosen slaves became skilled craftsmen. Many plantations also used the position of slave driver to organize their large population of bondsmen. The driver was a slave whose job was to ensure the productivity of slave work. The position of slave driver might mean better quality housing or extra foodstuffs, but could also bring the scorn of fellow slaves upon the driver. Most slaves lived in slave quarters, away from the main house, in homes they built for themselves from material provided. Their masters distributed them clothing twice a year on average and shoes once, for use during the winter months. Rations of food were distributed once a week, the typical wares being pork, corn, and molasses. Most slaves worked dawn to dusk with little leisure time, although many tried to maintain a small vegetable garden in their spare time near their cabins.