Black Rebellions, An Unachievable Goal for Slaves in the South
Full scale slave rebellions as those planned by Nat Turner, Denmark Vessey, and Gabriel Prosser were not common among the African American community in the United States in the nineteenth century. This was due to a lack of hope among the slaves in the South, slave patrols, the fact that less than five percent of the slaves could read, fear of brutality by white masters, and lack of equality for blacks in the legal system. The underlying theme for lack of black resistance was southern paternalism!
Many slaves had a lack of hope for freedom. Most slaves were located in the south where slavery was accepted. To reach freedom they needed to head north where blacks could live freely. Also most slaves were born into slavery and were raised to accept it. But the north was hundreds of miles away. So most slaves just accepted their lives, with little or no hope of every being freed or revolting. As Angelina Grimke explains "I have seen it! I have seen it! I know its horrors that can never be described. I was brought up under its wing. I witnessed for many years its demoralizing influences and its destructiveness to human happiness. I have never seen a happy slave. I have seen him dance in his chains, it's true, but he wasn't happy. There is a wide difference between happiness and mirth. Man cannot enjoy happiness while his manhood is destroyed. Slaves, however, may be and sometimes are mirthful. When hope is extinguished they say, "lets us eat and drink for tomorrow we die"(Document 13-8). This shows their lack of hope for freedom and shows why resistance was not realistic. The slaves had a destiny to be slaves, from the cradle to the grave. "The child born of a slave was destined to remain slave" (Out of Many pp.303).
The fact that most slaves were able to have families and feel a sense of community also lessoned resistance of slaves. "Masters encourage...