Tuesday, September 11, 2012

The article "This Cargo of Human Flesh" reiterates many of the themes we discussed in class today.  Choose two of the themes/questions below and elaborate about how "This Cargo of Human Flesh" exemplifies them:

  • Henry Clay's statement at the beginning of the article: "There is no such thing as a kind slaveowner."  -- to what extent is this true?  Does Reverend Lovejoy disprove this?

  • The term "Soul-Driver" implies that slaves are owned in more than just a corporeal sense.  Do slave owners possess a portion of their slaves' souls as well as their bodies?

  • What does the article reveal about kinship networks (family ties)?  What does William Wells Brown's relationship with his biological family tell us about this?

  • Is there such a thing as true freedom if slavery exists?  Are slaves only free in death?  Consider examples of slaves choosing death in the article.


  1. #2: Slave owners of course cannot literally have ownership of their slaves' souls. However, when the slaves are brainwashed by their masters it can be seen as their soul being taken advantage of. The term, "Soul-Driver" and its meaning is similar to the idea discussed in class today regarding mind control; the minds of slaves can be controlled to a certain extent, but it can also be avoided by the slaves themselves, which is dependent on their age and state of mind.

    #4: True freedom is only obtained by people who are not slaves (obviously), so it cannot be present as a whole. I believe that slaves can be free in both their minds and death, depending on the slave. Of course if a slave's mind is manipulated then they are not free in that area, but if they can avoid it then they are. And depending on the slaves' beliefs on afterlife, they are potentially free after they die as well.

  2. #1: There is no such thing as a kind slave owner. William James was right. Slavery is an evil practice, and those who take part in it are being evil. Thus, those who treat their slaves kindly are simply lesser evils, but evil nonetheless. Mr.Lovejoy treated William better than any of his masters because he didn't whip him three times a week, so relative to his other masters, yes he was a good man. But Mr.Lovejoy also helped further a system in which certain people were treated as sub-human by taking part in it. So although compared to his past circumstances, being with him was an upgrade, William was still slave and Mr. Lovejoy still denied William the universal right of freedom.

    #4: Slaves are on truly free in death. The sad thing is though,is that they are dead so they can not experience this freedom. Slaves probably have just as many choices as a pet dog. A dog can run away, but where would it go, what would it eat? If caught, it would be returned to the owner or sent to the pound, where it would be eventually put down. A dog can also bite his owner which would make it dangerous and also lead to it being put down. A dog is only truly free if having a pet dog is banned and dogs can't be scooped up and put up for sale or in a pound. True freedom also can not exist as long as slavery exists because one can never truly escape it.

  3. #1: i believe that the words "kind slave owner" should be said in the same sentence. owning other human being is cruel, but to put them through most of the things or even some of the things that the overseers and slave masters put the slave through is evil in my opinion. the fact that mr. Lovejoy is "nice" slave owner is just his way of making himself feel batter about the atrocities he is committing. I am familiar with the fact that in the bible it says that it is ok to own slaves but the ethics of that time are over and should never be recreated in modern times.

    #4:i believe that as long as slavery exists, that human will never be free. whenever we think of slavery we think of the south but it is happening all over the world as we speak this very minute. the human-trafficking crisis across Europe is a heated problem in that part of the world. i believe that the only true way to be free was to be killed or kill yourself when you are enslaved. in death there aren't any chains and anything holding you back as i see it. like the woman who killed herself on the boat in the passage, she couldn't bare a life without her family so she choose to be free and not live a life where she would be plagued by the thought of her family being abused daily by slave owners.

  4. #2 - I believe that slave owners do not own their slave's souls in a literal sense, but rather in the sense that if a slave believes that there is no way out of their enslavement, then in a way the slave owner owns more that the physical body of the slave. This means that the owner controls the slave in both a physical way but also a mental way, thus destroying any faith that the slave can one day be free.

    #4 - Slaves are only free in death as long as they believe that. If a slave truly believes that they can be free one day then in a way they are free from the thought of being enslaved their whole life. If a slave feels that there is no way out then there is no hope for them finding some sort of mental escape from their master.

  5. The term „Soul-driver“ in the text describes the slave dealer who is taking slaves away to different places to sell them. Of course, one person cannot really own somones soul, but I think, they wanted to describe how the Dealer is destroying their souls by taking them away from all and everyone they new, from family members, from friends, maybe husbands and wifes. By ripping them out of their accostumed lifes over and over again and forcing them in another, unknown ownership, the souls of the slaves surely suffered a lot.

    A kind slaveowner? Of course there aren't. Slavery is a terrible crime and even if somebody treats his slaves well, it does not make him good, maybe better than other slaveowners who whip their slaves frequently, but still evil, for they think they can claim another human as their possesion.

  6. #2 I do believe that slave owners withhold the power to twist the souls of their slaves. I think the idea of mind control and manipulation plays a huge role in reaching into these slave's souls. There is a massive amount of power in both the language and actions used upon the slaves which ultimately changes the structure of their soul. For example, in "This Cargo of Human Flesh" Brown says something that is quite striking to me. he states that "it is that slavery makes its victims lying and mean; for which vices it afterwards reproaches them , and uses them as arguments to prove that they deserve no better fate." This proves the fact that not only do slaves become victims of physical torture, but their morals within their soul gets distorted.

    #1 I would have to disagree with the fact that all slaveholders are evil people. In the times of slavery, it was essential for a man to own slaves in order to sustain themselves financially. For example, a plantation owner's estate would never be able to be kept up without the work of slaves. Manual labor was necessary for middle and high class people in these times to have a stable life financially. Although I think some slaveholders are more evil than other, there are several masters who are exceptions to this stereotype. For example, I think Reverend Lovejoy is an exclusive to the "evil master" stereotype because even his slaves called him "a very good man".

  7. #1 I believe that there is no such thing as a kind slave owner. Any practice of owning another human being should without a doubt be frowned upon. Even though you may treat your slave well, in the end, that slave is still considered a slave. I think that Mr. Lovejoy does not disprove this. Even though the slaves he owned were better off, they still were slaves. And he made them work.

    #4 In my opinion, if slavery exists, there will never be true freedom. I think the only way to be free when being a slave is death. When the woman killed her self on the way to the states, she did it because she couldn't think of another life without her family. She found that there was only one way out and that was to kill herself. And she isn't the only one. That's just one of the many examples of people that would rather kill their self and be free than be a slave for the rest of their life.

  8. #1 There is no such thing as a kind slave owner because the practice of slaver is inherently cruel. To believe that you own anther person is wrong. It doesn't matter if you're 'nice' to them you still believe that you posses them and that you can use them as a commodity and that is wrong on the most basic of levels.

    #3 William Wells Brown is related to his masters and that is the reason they don't sell him to Mr. Walker. This shows that in some ways the fact that he is related to them matters, however he is still treated as a slave. Cynthia's situation was much different, she was not born into a slave owner's family she was forced into and was forced to bring her children into that life. when Walker got married he got sold her and his children. Being related to the slave owners wasn't an advantage or a disadvantage, it was treated as just a fact and like it wasn't important.

  9. #1. I do believe that there is no such a kind slave owner because the slavery is just simply wrong and immoral. The business to trade a human being and ask them to do what ever you want is just not any type of kindness. No matter what beautiful dress a devil put on himself, fact is fact.
    #4, First of all, most people do believe that if slave exist human would never be free, and the only way for a slave to be free is to kill themselves. i think that minght be true at some point, but i want to argue that people would always have the freedom to think and that could be the core spirit of freedom.Plus, i also want to argue that human being is not only physical but also mental, even though we free our body, does that means we are free than?

  10. #1 : We always view slavery as a terrible and horrendous point in time in history, like we should. But back then, slavery was very common and in order to maintain your buisiness you needed slaves. I feel like underneath all the slave owners that tortured their slaves, there must have been some slave owners that treated their slaves well and with respect. I hate to think that all slave owners were mean and nasty toward their slaves. I believe that "there is no such as a kind slave owner" is proven wrong by Lovejoy.

    #4 : I do not believe that there can be freedom under slavery. Slavery deprives people of their right of choose and right of free will. It would be very hard to consider slaves as free people based on how they were mostly treated and considered. I hate to say it, but I do believe that slaves wanted to be free through death, and at times that was the only way to obtain it.

  11. 2: Well from a scientific standpoint "soul-driver" wouldn't be an applicable term. In fact the term physiatrist would be better. because in fact the mental or "soul" portion of slavery is not only a skill but today is a profession. Psychology is the study, and knowledge of the human mind and how if functions. So i a slave owner knows how the keep the slave mind thinking what he wants it to think; then yes in a sense he has both control of the slaves mind and in turn their body. From a cultural stand point this could be considered both control of "soul" and flesh.

    4: No, freedom cannot exist for a people or individual of a people who are being oppressed with slavery. It is the norm for their to be ways for culture to supersede the law that states members of that group are free and allows them to be forcefully brought back into slavery. Even if they are "free" the society of the oppressors will certainly not welcome them with open arms so to speak. In order to completely be free the slavery as a concept (thus entailing all of its sub-sets and branches) must be abolished. THEN the society of the oppressors must be will to swallow their pride, admit their mistake and accept the oppressed. This process if it is to succeed at all would take decades if not centuries to complete itself.