Part 3 Essay Questions:
1 – Despite unimaginable hardships, slaves were able to maintain a sense of identity and a determination to attain freedom. Describe how slave culture aided those endeavors and drove slaves’ desire for freedom. Be sure to consider African heritage and slave family life, folklore, and religious life in your response.
2 – For the most part, white southerners defended the “peculiar institution” whether or not they had slaves, whether they were rich or poor, and whether they lived on large plantations or small farms. Why was this the case?
3 – Discuss the relationship between masters and slaves in the American South. Did masters have all the power in this relationship, or did the enslaved exert some power? Points to consider include paternalism, the size of slaveholdings, slavery and the law, forms of slave resistance, and labor organization (task and gang systems).
4 – Slave rebellions were rare but important. Compare the slave rebellions (merely planned or actually carried out) of Denmark Vesey and Nat Turner. What did Vesey attempt to do? What did Turner attempt to do? How were these men similar? How did they view slavery and freedom? How did white society react to them, and why?
5 – Discuss the fugitive slave and the different types of escaping (permanent and temporary). How did whites in the North and South react to runaways? What role did the Underground Railroad play?
6 – The various reform and utopian communities that sprang up throughout America during the first part of the nineteenth century typically understood the meaning of freedom differently from mainstream Americans. Analyze the various meanings these groups gave to the word “freedom” and compare those meanings with the ones given by mainstream America. Your essay ought to give the reader a sense of what these communities were rejecting about mainstream society.
7 – One person’s reform in some cases may be considered an attack on another person’s vital interests. Describe how the antebellum reform movements—particularly temperance, colonization, abolition, and women’s rights—involved conflicts between different sets of ideas and interests.
8 – To what extent was Theodore Weld’s argument about the sinfulness of slavery not only radical but also necessary for the popularization of immediate abolition?
9 – Frederick Douglass wrote, “When the true history of the antislavery cause shall be written, women will occupy a large space in its pages.” Was Douglass correct? Explain the role women played in the abolitionist movement. Then analyze how that experience influenced the feminist movement.
10 – What were the women at Seneca Falls advocating? Be sure to explain how they understood freedom and liberty. What methods were the feminists using to promote their cause?