Sunday, December 14, 2014

The Slavery Problem: A Good Master

Is there such thing as a good or kind master? 

I have been considering this question for sometime. What do you think? I posed this question during both of my slavery workshops for the Rhode Island Historical Society's docents. One man compared it to the question of whether someone can truly be a "benevolent dictator." Isn't a master a dictator whose kingdom is his home, or his farm or his plantation. During slavery that dictatorial power stretched beyond the reaches of the land he/she owned and follows the master wherever they went within a slave society. That power also followed them into the "free territory". Perhaps it may have been challenged but there would have almost always been someone to reinforce the master's power over the enslaved.

To truly examine this question we need to first break it down.

  • What does it mean to be a slave master?
  • What does it mean to be good?
As you consider these questions, please enjoy a brief clip from one of my favorite YouTube series, Ask A Slave.

I'll be back later in the week with my take. Until then please comment or tweet to me @their_child

Update Dec 19th

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1 comment:

  1. I bet there were some slave masters who strategically used kindness as one means to get the people they owned to do what the master wanted. But everyone knew that the threat and/or use of violence was next, in order to maintain the power dynamic. A good master was one who sought to manumit his or her slaves.