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Slavery in Tennessee


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Slavery in Tennessee was established by wealthy farmers who brought in slaves from Africa. It was established mainly because central Tennessee famous for tobacco, cattle and grain required a lot of man labour and cheap one ensured good returns. Living as a slave in Tennessee was a nightmare because first they were considered the property of their owners. They would be send on errands in the wilderness where they were under the mercy of hostile Indians and wild animals. Their living conditions were deplorable as they were forced to share small quarters provided by their masters. At the establishment of slave markets, many families faced separation as being sold as separate entities was not unusual. It was not easy also for the women forced into alliances by rich white men against their will. Major strides were taken by blacks .East Tennessee manifested an early antislavery sentiment. Some twenty-five manumission societies organized before 1830 and attracted major figures in the emerging national campaign against slavery. Men like Elihu Embree and Benjamin Lundy attempted to find ways to achieve emancipation without violent upheaval. In 1829 the Tennessee Colonization Society organized to send emancipated slaves to Liberia, transporting 870 ex-slaves to Africa in the period that ended in 1866. Although this modest record had minimal impact on the institution of slavery in Tennessee, it represented the only antislavery activity tolerated in the state after the 1830s. Manumission societies disappeared, and public discussion of emancipation was prohibited. The increasing militancy of the abolition movement in the North, periodic white panic following rumors of slave insurrection, and above all, the increasing institutionalization of slavery as it became part of the settled agriculture of the state dictated a harsher legal code governing not only slaves, but also free blacks and white abolitionists. In 1831, for example

the law required that emancipation of a slave had to be accompanied by removal from the state, while severe penalties were enacted against the distribution of “rebellion inciting” materials. The 1835 state constitution explicitly deprived free blacks of the right to vote. Laws against the assembling of blacks, which were often observed only in the breach, were harshly enforced during slave rebellion end. (“Tennessee”, 2017)

Most city slave owners, living in restricted quarters, bought or rented individual slaves according to the services required, although they sometimes agreed to take on slave children with their mothers, so that in many households, the slave family centered on the mother, grandmother, or “auntie.” The hiring of slaves became so common it was institutionalized: each New