Slave Voices - Summary

America’s dark history of slavery reveals what it is like to lose everything you know and love, come to a strange country against your will, and live like an animal. Even young children endure being taken from their homes in Africa and forced to work as adults, with no thought to their stolen childhoods. The African people face persecution by slave owners, yet their voices tell the history of their past. History tries to silence their voices, but stories and drawings provide proof of the horrors these people endure. Their journeys prove what the human spirit can overcome, despite the odds. 

Slaves face kidnappings from Africa to provide the labor in America as colonies rise from the dirt. In the beginning, slaves are indentured servants, but this quickly turns into slavery as more and more workers are needed. If not for the writings of a few who experience slavery firsthand, this chapter in American history might go untold. Instead, some slaves learn to read and write (despite it being illegal) and record their hardships. Olaudah Equiano is one of these African slaves. 

In 1789, Olaudah Equiano publishes his book about his life as a slave. As a child kidnapped from his family and forced into slavery, Equiano is one of the first Africans to live through slavery and write of his ordeal.  Equiano writes of the horrors of the journey – the frightening ship, the inhumane conditions, and the loss of family. He is the son of a chief in Africa, but must do the white man’s bidding in America. He becomes the leading black against slavery in Britain after gaining his freedom from decades of bondage.

It is ironic that slavery occurs at a time in history when Americans are fighting for their own freedom. Slaves are subject to being owned legally. Although the law bans slave trading in 1808, demand for cheap labor in the new world causes it to continue. Slaves are beginning to rebel against slavery and the Underground Railroad is born. Many slaves would rather die seeking freedom than live as slaves, so they choose this dangerous passage to freedom. Consisting of a series of routes, safe houses, and people, the Underground Railroad helps about 100,000 slaves escape.

Many in the North believe that slavery must stop. Former slaves, such as Harriet Beecher Stowe, Sojourner Truth, Harriet Tubman, and Frederick Douglass work tirelessly to stop slavery. The buying and selling of people eventually comes to a stop after the Civil War ends. Both North and South want to get past slavery issues, resulting in many slave stories being lost. Those that survive tell a remarkable story of strength and endurance, despite the odds.

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Author: Carole D. Bos, J.D. 5155stories and lessons created

Original Release: Jun 01, 2002

Updated Last Revision: Nov 09, 2016

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"Slave Voices" AwesomeStories.com. Jun 01, 2002. Jul 18, 2018.
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