“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.” (1)
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. The white women could not care less about the humanity of the slaves, all they care about is their safety. The “resistance to slavery knew no regional or gender boundaries” which should say something about the treatment of the slaves, but instead these ladies make it to be an issue out of their control, as if the abuse these female slave owners subjected the slaves to did not cause it, like what was addressed in Glymph’s piece prior. (2)
- “‘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.
- Berkin, Carol , ed. “Women in Colonial and Revolutionary America.” Clio in the Classroom . Ed. Margaret Crocco and Barbara Winslow. N.p.: n.p., n.d. 19. Print.