“Virginia Ladies’ Petition to Eliminate Slavery” 1832

“Tell us not of the labors & hardships which we shall endure when we our bond-servants shall be removed from us.  They have no terrors for us.  Those labors & hardships cannot be greater, or so great as those we now endure in providing for & ruling the faithless begins who are subjected to us.”

During a slave revolt in 1832, many slave holders were killed and it lead to the resentment of slavery by many Virginians  and resulted in 215 women sending this petition to legislature to end slavery.  The idea that free slaves could not survive on their own was often used as an excuse and justification for the reason slavery could not be eliminated.  They were seen as dependent beings, just like the white women, on the independent white male, and if they were to be freed from the bonds of slavery they would not be able to survive.  But African American women were already at the bottom of the totem pole, constantly being belittled and dehumanized by the people who were often oppressed by the white man as well, like African men and white women.  They lived their whole lives in constant hardships, constantly struggling for their own independence and to not be oppressed.  It is ironic for the white Virginia lady to take on this stance and shows the complete divide between the races, where they are so fearful of an uprising from the abuse they subjected their slaves to that they can no longer ‘rule the faithless’ and they will endure hardships giving up their slaves, but it is worth it, as if the slaves who were forced to work did not face hardships.  The fact that the white woman can write out about her hardships and blame it on the incivility of slaves, while they were forced to not have an education and be abused daily demonstrates how the racial differences far outweighs the commonality of gender and persists much longer.

“‘Virginia Ladies’ Petition to Eliminate Slavery”.” In Root of Bitterness: Documents of the Social History of American Women, 243-45. 2nd ed. Boston: Northeastern University Press, 1996.


5 thoughts on ““Virginia Ladies’ Petition to Eliminate Slavery” 1832

  1. Pingback: Order of Blog Posts | The Intersectionality of Oppression

  2. Don’t forget to use other sources from class in your posts. Again, I think I see why you put this post after the other but maybe add a quick sentence that connects them to make it blatantly clear just in case someone else is confused (and maybe do this for the other posts too).


  3. This is a great quote. i think you can definitely mention its relation to Glymph’s piece on your previous post. Like I mentioned in the comment there, white women might see some sort of comparison between their struggles and that of slaves’ oppression.


  4. Wow, there are lots of layers here. Since we can’t see the whole document, I think it’s important to make it clear – are these white women at all concerned with the inhumanity of slavery itself, or are they primarily concerned with ending slavery because they feel slaves pose a danger to white society that isn’t outweighed by the benefits they bring to white society?


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