For many years female slaves were underrepresented in history. During the 19th century slave women were depicted as mothers and caregivers, but they were often the abuse victims of their white slave owners. In the following, I will answer the question of what does the existence of slavery reveal to us about life in 19th century America? I will also discuss the role of slave women and the myth of the mammy that surrounded them during this time period. .
As we all know, slave owners did not make a difference between men and women when dividing work. Women could work alongside their men out in the fields but most of them did work in the houses. However, Female slaves, who worked in the household, were often subjected to cruel beatings and rapes. Sexual relationships between masters and their female slaves were extremely common during these times. These forced sexual relationships most often took the form of cruel beatings and savage rapes. According to Douglass, who witnessed an overseer beating a woman said, " he would whip her to make her scream, and whip her to make her hush; and not until overcome by fatigue, would he cease to swing the blood-clotted cowskin” (42). .
Although most sexual relations between master and female slave were out right rape, there were many accounts upon which some female slaves willingly had sex with their masters. However, this kind of relationship would spark a problem between the slave owner and his wife. This conflict would often result in the sale or severe punishment of a slave. Black women also represented the authority figure within her family or community. In addition, slave mothers would educate their children on how to sew or do other household chores in order to help their families. .
Between the late 1700s and early 1800s, the slave population increased from 500,000 to 4 million. Of all the slaves, Black women were the ones who suffered the most.