The Industrial Revolution was closely linked to slavery.  The millions of bales of cotton sent to Northern factories were almost without exception picked by slave laborers.  Slaves in cotton fields worked in very difficult conditions under demanding overseers.

Southerners defended slavery in part by claiming that Northern factory workers toiled under worse conditions and were not cared for by their employers.  Defenders of slavery referred to factory workers as the “white slaves of the North.”

Meanwhile, Northern industrialists and workers benefited from the slave system, even as Northern politicians and religious leaders denounced it. 

Slavery as an official institution had a long history in America.  Students may be surprised to learn about the realities of early African servitude in the colonies and how much the institution changed over time.  In any event, African slavery is an important theme that recurs while studying just about all the aspects of U.S. history, from colonialism all the way to modern interpretations of the 14th Amendment.

Slavery Journal Questions - 1-2 pages each

  1. 1. How does slavery in other cultures compare to the images of American slavery you had in your mind?  Give specific examples from the source that you studied.

  2. 2.Pick two images displayed on the whiteboard (or below) and show how those two images represented an important part of the experience of a West African captive.

  3. 3.What do you think was the worst part of Olaudah Equiano’s ordeal?  Explain how the captives in Equiano’s story were dehumanized.  Why do you think the men who captured them treated the captives as if they were less than human?

  4. 4.Take at least five of these elements related to the growth of slavery in North America and make a connection circle and a causal loop diagram.  Then explain your loop in a short paragraph. 

plantation profits                 plantation production

demand for slaves               # laws to tighten control of slaves

slave population                  likelihood of slave rebellion

control of slaves                   fear of slaves 


  1. 5.Explain how bondage and the status of black people in the American colonies changed from 1619 to the late 1600s.  Use the story of Anthony Johnson as part of your answer.  Include at least four changes in your answer.

  2. 6.Why do slave owners want to prevent slaves from learning? What is the importance of reading and education to young Frederick Douglass?  Quote at least one passage from the book, including page number, to support your answer.

  3. 7. What is Frederick Douglass trying to show about the religious displays of slaveowners? Quote at least one passage, including page number, to support your answer.

  4. 8.Why did George Washington deny slaves and free blacks the opportunity to fight for the colonies in the Revolutionary War?    Also, what were the effects of Lord Dunmore’s proclamation of 1775 on African slaves?  Do you think Dunmore was sincerely trying to help the slaves?

  5. 9.What is your reaction to Nat Turner’s Rebellion of 1830?  Why do you think it was so important in history?   Use this link if you want to review.

  6. 10.FINAL JOURNAL ENTRY (2-3 pages)                                                           

Write a short essay on one of the listed themes related to the Narrative of Frederick Douglass.  Include evidence from the entire book.  At least two passages, with page numbers, must be quoted from the book. 

THEME #1: How did slavery dehumanize both black and white people?

THEME #2: Choose at least two incidents of resistance.  Analyze the importance of the acts of resistance (remember all the forms resistance may take).

THEME #3: How were knowledge and the denial of knowledge important parts of the slave experience?

#1 Yoked captives

#2 A Slave Coffle, West Africa



#3 J.M.W. Turner, The Slave Ship, or  Slavers Throwing overboard the        

                    Dead and Dying --Typhon Coming On, 1840





#4 Slave ship packing diagram published by British abolitionists, 1789