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The item The laws of slavery in Texas : historical documents and essays, edited by Randolph B. Duncan, electronic resource represents a specific, individual, material embodiment of a distinct intellectual or artistic creation found in University Of Pikeville. This item is available to borrow from 1 library branch. Language eng. Publication Austin, University of Texas Press, Edition 1st ed.

Extent 1 online resource xvi, p. Note Description based on print version record. Isbn Label The laws of slavery in Texas : historical documents and essays Title The laws of slavery in Texas Title remainder historical documents and essays Statement of responsibility edited by Randolph B. Label The laws of slavery in Texas : historical documents and essays, edited by Randolph B. Duncan, electronic resource Instantiates The laws of slavery in Texas : historical documents and essays Publication Austin, University of Texas Press, Note Description based on print version record Antecedent source unknown Bibliography note Includes bibliographical references p.

File format unknown Form of item online Isbn Isbn Type electronic bk. Duncan, electronic resource Publication Austin, University of Texas Press, Note Description based on print version record Antecedent source unknown Bibliography note Includes bibliographical references p. Subject African Americans -- Legal status, laws, etc. Library Locations Map Details. Allalra Library Borrow it. Library Links. About FAQ.

Embed Experimental. The slaves themselves, however, also insisted on family ties. They often made matches with slaves on neighboring farms and spent as much time as possible together, even if one owner or the other could not be persuaded to arrange for husband and wife to live on the same place. They fought bitterly against the disruption of their families by sale or migration and at times virtually forced masters to respect family ties. Many slave families, however, were disrupted.

All slaves had to live with the knowledge that their families could be broken up, and yet the basic social unit survived. Family ties were a source of strength for people enduring bondage and a mark of their humanity, too. Religion and music were also key elements of slave culture. Many owners encouraged worship, primarily on the grounds that it would teach proper subjection and good behavior. Slaves, however, tended to hear the message of individual equality before God and salvation for all. The promise of ultimate deliverance helped many to resist the psychological assault of slavery.

Slaves adjusted their behavior to the conditions of servitude in a variety of ways. Some felt well-treated by their owners and generally behaved as loyal servants. Others hated their masters and their situation and rebelled by running away or using violence. Texas had many runaways and thousands escaped to Mexico. Although no major rebellions occurred, individual acts of violence against owners were carried out.

Most slaves, however, were neither loyal servants nor rebels. Instead, the majority recognized all the controls such as slave patrols that existed to keep them in bondage and saw also that runaways and rebels generally paid heavy prices for overt resistance. They therefore followed a basic human instinct and sought to survive on the best terms possible.


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This did not mean that the majority of slaves were content with their status. They were not, and even the best-treated slaves dreamed of freedom. Slavery in Texas was not a matter of content, well-cared for servants as idealized in some views of the Old South. Slavery was a complex institution that varied according to time and place.

In Texas, like other southern states, the treatment of slaves varied from plantation to plantation, from master to master. Legally slaves were categorized as chattel moveable property , but they were men, women and children who clearly despised their condition of servitude. Yet, they did not live every day in helpless rage. Instead, slaves exercised a degree of agency in their lives by maximizing the time available within the system to maintain physical, psychological and spiritual strength.

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In part this limited autonomy was given by the masters, and was taken by slaves in the slave quarters which provided them resilience to assert self-determination within the confine of bondage. Slaves increased their minimal self-determination by taking what they could get from their owners and then pressing for additional latitude. For example, slaves worked hard, sometimes at their own pace, and offered many forms of nonviolent resistance if pushed too hard. Slaves in general did not lash out constantly against all the limits placed on them — that would have brought intolerable punishment — but they did not surrender totally to the system, either.

One way or another they had to endure. This fact is not a tribute to the benevolence of slavery, but a testimony to the human spirit of the enslaved African Americans. Slavery was a labor system and although slaves obviously freed their owners from the drudgery of manual labor and daily chores, they were a troublesome property in many ways. Masters disciplined their slaves to get the labor they wanted, and yet had to avoid many problems of resistance such as running away and feigning illness. Most lived with a certain amount of fear of their supposedly happy servants, for the slightest threat of a slave rebellion could touch off a violent reaction.

Slavery was thus a constant source of tension in the lives of slaveholders.

White society as a whole in antebellum Texas was dominated by its slaveholding minority. Economically, slave owners had a disproportionately large share of the state's wealth and produced virtually all of the cash crops. Politically, slaveholders dominated public office holding at all levels. Socially, slaveholders, at least the large planters, embodied an ideal to most Texans.

The progress of the Civil War did not drastically affect slavery in Texas because no major slaveholding area was invaded. In general, Texas slaves continued to work and live as they had before the war.

This underground railroad took slaves to freedom in Mexico

Almost certainly, however, many came to believe that they would be free if the South lost. Slavery formally ended in Texas after June 19, Juneteenth , when Gen. Gordon Granger arrived at Galveston with occupying federal forces and announced emancipation. As news of emancipation spread across the state, a few owners angrily told their slaves to leave immediately, but most asked the freedmen, as they soon became known, to stay and work for wages.

The emancipated slaves celebrated joyously if whites allowed it , but then they had to find out just what freedom meant.

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They knew that they controlled their own bodies and therefore were free to move about as they chose and not be forced to labor for others. But how would they make their way in the world after ? Enslaved African Americans had maintained human strength and dignity even in bondage, and Texas could not have grown as it had before without the slaves' contributions.

Nevertheless, slavery was a curse to Texans, black and white alike, until and beyond.


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Randolph B. Andrew J. Sean M. Alwyn Barr. All copyrighted materials included within the Handbook of Texas Online are in accordance with Title 17 U. The TSHA makes every effort to conform to the principles of fair use and to comply with copyright law. If you wish to use copyrighted material from this site for purposes of your own that go beyond fair use, you must obtain permission from the copyright owner. The following, adapted from the Chicago Manual of Style , 15th edition, is the preferred citation for this article.

Jennings, the oldest man to die at the Alamo I cannot find any other mention of this authorship work by Pease in other credible research about the credited Constution authors Skip to Main Content. Search this site:. Slave movement in the South from through Section Slave population as percentage of total population in southern states from through The front page of the Texas Constitution. Image courtesy of Tarlton Law Library.

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Percentage of slaves in Texas in The slave trade in the South. The grave of Robert and D. Mills in Galveston. Political Map of the United States in Courtesy of the Library of Congress.

Slavery in the American South

The Texas Constitution of on slaves. Image courtesy of the Tarlton Law Library.


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  4. Slave quarters in Bell County, Texas. Image courtesy of George Washington University. Juneteenth celebration in in Austin, Texas.