HUMAN SPIRIT PREVAILS (Illustration) American History Biographies African American History Civil Rights Law and Politics Social Studies Tragedies and Triumphs Slaves and Slave Owners

Robert Porter, a slave, ran away.  Dr. J.W. Thomas, from Charles County (Maryland), wanted him back.  This 19th-century broadside describes the reward Thomas would pay for Porter's return.  Online via Slavery Images, sponsored by Virginia Foundation for the Humanities and the University of Virginia Library.


American slaves, despite all the horrors, were not merely defined and shaped by what others did to them. Their human spirit still prevailed, as Ira Berlin notes in Many Thousands Gone:

Slaveholders severely circumscribed the lives of enslaved people, but they never fully defined them.

The people defined themselves, as their dogged determination to escape constantly proved.

But their struggle continued:

  • From trial courts where African-American slaves had not been allowed to testify in their own defense,
  • To the highest court of the land where a disgraceful post-slavery decision permitted "legal" segregation and "Jim Crow" laws.

Today - if we listen - we can hear those long-silenced slave voices. They speak to us still, showing us what the human spirit can overcome, despite the most horrific and appalling circumstances.

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Author: Carole D. Bos, J.D. 5190stories and lessons created

Original Release: Jun 01, 2002

Updated Last Revision: May 14, 2019

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"HUMAN SPIRIT PREVAILS" AwesomeStories.com. Jun 01, 2002. Feb 24, 2020.
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