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The conditions of being a slave during the seventeenth and eighteenth century, were horrendous. These slaves were brought to the New World and southern colonies for their cheap labor. Slaves had masters, and the Slaves would have to listen and follow directions to their masters. If they didn’t their lives would be in risk. After reading these primary sources, Alexander Falconbridge and Olaudah Equiano wrote their thoughts on the slave conditions. A moral man, by the name of John Sarfin, from Massachusetts states that slaves should be set free.
The conditions that these slaves went through truly diminished their lives as well as put them through an agonizing experience.
Falconbridge and Equiano’s stories are both reliable sources but the main difference is that Equiano is a former slave discussing his experience, while Falconbridge didn’t suffer what Equiano had to suffer through but only was able to witness it. Falconbridge was a surgeon on the ships. He truly saw a first-hand of what it was like on these slave ships.
While Equiano was carried on board, he noted that he was horrified. He was looking around his surroundings and seeing all these black people in chains. This made fall to the ground and faint. Half of the slaves died on the ship and never made it to the New World. These ships would carry hundreds of slaves at a time. The men, women and children were all put in separate rooms. Due to the small air portholes, It was very hard to get fresh air.
When it would rain, those portholes would be closed, and it would get very hot in the room. Most of the slaves would get fevers and die.
The text stated that the captains would burn coal and put it on a shovel and put it so close to a slaves mouth it burned their lips to get them to eat. The slaves were sometimes demanded to eat the coal if they didn’t eat their food. It also stated that, a captain poured melted lead on a slave for refusing to eat. Equiano thought that he and all the slaves were going to be eaten by the whites and killed. That’s why he was claiming his reason of refusing to eat. In one instance, Equiano refused to eat his food and got tied up and whipped.
Equiano tells us his first-hand experiences he’s witnessed and also talks about his fears. He stated that, some of these cruel acts these white men did to the slaves made me cringe, it was that horrifying. The slaves had horrific living and working conditions in the New World. Landowners in the southern colonies needed cheap labor to work on their fields. This was why African slaves were brought to the New World. Slaves helped maintain crops such as tobacco, and cotton. Equiano goes on saying that one day they had a ton of fish. Once the whites were fed and done eating. They had some fish leftover. Instead of giving the fish to the slaves, they threw the rest of the fish back into the sea. Life was so hard back then that Equiano explains, that one day two slaves that were chained together jumped in the sea to die. The slaves were being treated so badly and they were getting abused daily, so death seemed like a better option. Equiano states, that he saw a slave staked to the ground and his ears cut off in pieces because he was with a white women. He also stated that he saw a slave that was half hanged and then burnt for trying to poison a white.
Emanuel Sankey escaped from his master and got on a ship to London. It didn’t go to well for Sankey as he ended up getting caught. He was returned to his master, and was then pinned down to the ground with each wrist and ankle. Then they lit sealing wax and dropped it on his back. The way these slaves were treated was appalling. It was very rare to see a slave being treated well. There were places in Barbadoes were negroes were treated good. Negroes were treated so good that their lives were much longer than other slaves. The slaves had a written contract that said they got two hours of refreshment and lodging.
John Sarfin, was a landowner and a judge in Massachusetts. Sarfin believed that it was unlawful to buy and sell Negroes. John believed that all men have equal rights to Liberty. John didn’t look at color. He believed that if the servant is black or white, they should all be respected equally. Sarfin also believed that it was unlawful for Christians to purchase black servants. So, then those Christians should set them free. John Sarfin was a moral man and was focused on about what is right and what was wrong, and he believes it is wrong for the use of slaves. John states about the Law of God against man stealing, and states that buying and selling slaves is breaking the law. He says that and those who break that law, deserve death. John Sarfin refers to many different religious terms and thinks that all mankind are the Sons and Daughters of Adam. Thus, we are all equal and we should all treat each other with respect.
The behavior that slaves received was freighting. The slaves were helpless. They were fighting to stay alive. Falconbridge observed many unpleasant incidents around these slaves on the ships. For Equiano, he is one of many slaves that went through a real tough time. John Sarfin validated that slavery was wrong and that we are all equal.
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