In what ways did enslaved peoples in the US respond to the inhumanity of their situation?

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pholland14 eNotes educator| Certified Educator

Enslaved African Americans sometimes tried open revolt, such as Nat Turner's Rebellion in 1831, but this was put down violently and was quite rare.  Some African Americans escaped north to freedom, but this was rare too; many African Americans who escaped stayed in the South but hid from society.  The Underground Railroad assisted many slaves, but only a minority of slaves managed to escape.  There was just too many dangers involved in the trip.  A few slaves killed their masters, but this was rare as well. The penalty for this was a harsh death.  

The most common form of resistance was passive.  Slaves worked slowly or only partially followed directions.  Slaves stole or broke the tools needed in the fields.  Livestock were neglected.  While many plantation owners resorted to beating their slaves for these minor infractions, many more just said that the slaves were dumb.  This would lead to negative stereotypes that affected African Americans in the South.  

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