Slave cabins were built by planters to control slaves on their plantations. This was mainly during the late 17th and early 18th centuries when Africans were being taken to the United States as slaves. A plantation originally denoted a settlement in which settlers were "planted" to establish a colonial base. Southern plantations were generally self-sufficient settlements that relied on the forced labour of slaves
The value of the plantation came from its land and the enslaved people who toiled on it to produce crops for a profit. These same people produced the built environment, from the main house for the plantation owner, the slave cabins, barns, etc.
Slave houses were often of the most basic construction. Meant for little more than sleeping, they were usually rough log or frame one-room cabins, early examples often had chimneys made of clay and sticks. Earlier examples rested on the ground with a dirt floor, but later examples, as shown here, were usually raised on piers for ventilation. This one is near Elm Grove, Louisiana.
Cotton plantations, the most common type of plantation in the South prior to the Civil War, were the last type of plantation to fully develop. Cotton production was a very labour-intensive crop to harvest, with the fibres having to be hand-picked.
The treatment of slaves in the United States varied widely depending on conditions, times and places. Treatment was generally characterized by brutality, degradation, and inhumanity. Treatment was usually harsher on large plantations, which were often managed by overseers and owned by absentee slaveholders; in contrast with small slave-owning families, where the closer relationship between the owners and slaves sometimes resulted in a more humane environment.
Throughout the first half of the 19th century, abolitionism, a movement to end slavery, grew in strength throughout the United States; most abolitionist societies and supporters were in the North. This struggle took place amid strong support for slavery among white Southerners, who profited greatly from the system of enslaved labour. Slavery was entwined with the national economy; for instance, the banking, shipping and manufacturing industries of New York City all had strong economic interests in slavery, as did some other major cities in the North.
Slavery was abolished in 1865
Landscape and travel
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