A Happy Slave Essay

1567 Words Jul 20th, 2015 7 Pages
One of the main stereotypes promoted by these documents is the idea of a happy slave. They were portrayed as overgrown children who had to to be guided by their masters. George Fitzhugh believed that without enslavement Blacks would, “freeze or starve”. Furthermore, he and Hammond believed that “the negro race is inferior to the white race”. Unsurprisingly, these stereotypes even included some sort of biological basis to explain the condition of slaves. Dr. Cartwright believed that drapetomania was a disease unique to the slaves that caused them to run away. According to Cartwright unless the slaves were “frightened or panic-struck”, they would become “sulky and dissatisfied” before they ran away. The cure was to whip “the devil out of them.” Furthermore, “dysaethesia aethiopica, or hebetude of mind and obtuse sensibility of body”, was a condition that caused the slaves to behave in a manner that the overseers termed " rascality." According to Cartwright dysaethesia affected both the body and the mind. The mental illness or laziness was believed to be so severe that it was accompanied by physical ailments. Thus, ‘free negroes’ were particularly prone to the skin lesions not as commonly seen in slaves. The slaves who were prone to mischief did not do so intentionally, rather they were victims of this disease. Ruffian believed that the mental inferiority of slaves "prevented high grades of intellect” even in the North where they had access to schools and colleges. Fitzhugh…

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