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Paternalism: Slavery and White Slave Owners

Appetite Introduction Writer Gerald Drink refers to paternalism as an interference with a person’s liberty of action that is Justified particularly with reasons including the welfare, happiness, needs and interests of the person being oppressed. The aim of my essay is to investigate the slavery period in the Cape Colony during the nineteenth century with regard to the prevalence of paternalism between slaves and their masters.

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By means of suitable sources that Justify this statement as well as proof of opposing opinions I ill be able to discover if paternalism very well did exist during the slavery period in the nineteenth century and also why people tend to believe this. Slavery in the Cape Colony With colonialism came slavery and the forced labor model which was originally brought by the Dutch in 1652. The first slaves were imported by the Dutch from Angola and other parts of West Africa to the Afrikaner Republics of the Orange Free State and the GUID-Afrikaans Republic.

The first slaves were owned by the Dutch East India Company (VOCE) who mainly used the slaves to work on the colossal ardent. The company officials were the first to own private slaves as it was a custom in the East and this event sparked the slave trade industry. During the early colonial period, slaves and indentured servants enjoyed greater freedoms than the black slaves of the later period of the nineteenth century. Slaves were regarded as the lowest and poorest in the ranks of society.

They were condemned to impoverishment by the law and could not participate in wage-earning labor or trade. Slaves were also denied the right to own property and were not regarded as citizens in society, but ether the equivalent of an animal or product to be sold. Slaves therefore became dependent on their master’s provision of food, shelter and clothing which strengthened the power of white slave owners and also sustained the slave society. Slaves who were convicted of serious offences were punished harshly.

Lifting a hand to your master, setting a house on fire or attempting advances towards European women resulted in being impaled, branded and quartered. The extreme penalty was death preceded by torture. Convicted slaves were tortured on a wheel with red-hot tongs. They were mutilated and strangled until their flesh tore off. The bodies of mutilated slaves were left to hang on gibbets in the farmsteads of Cape Town to expose and provoke fear in fellow slaves.

This form of harsh punishment was only applicable to company slaves as private-owned slaves were limited to punishments along the lines of “domestic correction”. This was regarded as the same type of punishment that a husband or father could apply to their wife and children. “The owner is allowed, in the case of a slave making a mistake, to correct such a slave with mommies punishment and is not permitted to use mechanisms that would imply torture or maltreatment. Paternalism A number of attempts have been made to view the relations between white slave owners and slaves as some sense infused with paternalism. Writer Robert Shell sees control over Cape slaves as “being legitimated by the ideology of the family, into definition of a paternalistic system is referred to a family structure in which the fathers control the lives and labor of family members – this included the wives, children and slaves that belonged to the family.

According to George Frederickson paternalism can be defined in various ways, but must involve some sense of “quasi- kinship transcending from barriers of race” It is this quasi-kinship, or “fatherhood” which lacked prevalence in the Cape Colony during the nineteenth century. The trinity created by race, class and specifically gender has created a larger understanding of the domination in South Africa. However, there is no suitable reason why males should be fathers or even permitted to behave as such, but due to past tradition fathers were allowed to behave dominantly towards those who are not tot their biological and social children.

One principal proclaimed by anti- paternalist writer J. S Mill, “is that the sole end for which mankind are warranted, individually or collectively, in interfering with the liberty of action of any of their number, is self-protection. The only purpose for which power can be rightfully exercised over any member of a civilized community, against his will, is to prevent harm to others. ” In Mill’s proclamation, not one simple principle is being emphasized, but rather a few intricate opinions regarding an individual’s own good.

He is asserting that self-protection or the prevention of harm to others is sometimes sufficient and that someone’s own good is never a sufficient authorization for the exercise of domination. Slavery as Paternalistic The close contact between white masters and slaves in the Cape created immensely oppressive conditions as slaves were unable to develop their own slave culture to escape the lack of freedom and individuality that have been taken from them. Therefore, slavery swiftly developed in to a system for regulation and monitoring of slaves for social control by white owners.

This form of social control is greatly viewed as the beginning of soft-paternalism in the Cape Colony. The Dutch East India Company (VOCE) never enforced laws to prevent interracial relationships between white owners and slave women which was an extremely prevalent occurrence during the slave period in the Cape Colony. White males and black female slaves often produced mixed-race children, partly because of the uneven sex ratio for whites. Few slave children of white fathers were given citizenship and were therefore were not regarded as free.

This exemplifies the use of white male owners using female slaves’ dies as a mechanism of social control. White male owners often controlled their slaves across the Cape because the entire household usually slept under the same roof. A shortage of living space led to the inevitability of intimacy between slaves and their masters. Thus, slaves were not only vulnerable to the sexual power of their masters, but also within reach of them and their families. This decreased the chances of slaves to create their own social circle with other slaves in neighborhoods.

An article by John Edwin Mason tells the story of an 18-year old slave named Sammie ho went to the office of the Assistant Protector of Slaves in Attenuating to register a complaint against his master. He told the Protector that when he arrived home two evenings earlier, his master was completely drunk and ordered him to bark like a dog and crow like a a cook. When his master was not satisfied with Sammie efforts, he beat slave owners were able to control their slaves even for the sake of their own personal agendas.

Sammie master was drunk and ordered him to attempt a silly act for the sake of his own pleasure and exerted power over Sammie by beating him for not Ewing satisfied with Sammie attempt at the act. Conclusion As Drink states that paternalism includes a person’s liberty and therefore Justifies coercion as it is acted with reasons regarding someone’s welfare, happiness, needs and interests, the investigation of this essay concludes that paternalism did not exist during the slavery period in the Cape Colony of the nineteenth century.

It stands factual that some white families regarded their slaves as part of the family or as Ross states, the most Junior member of the family. The prevalence of intimacy between laves and their owners are simply inevitable as they lived together as a household and spent most of their time together. People therefore tend to think that slave owners became some sort of father figure for their slaves and that is why it is viewed as paternalistic. The question one should ask that has provided me with my opposing view to this statement is if these slave owners acted paternalistic in the interest of the slave or was it self-beneficial?

The earlier example of Sammie and his owner answers that question quite appropriately. Slave owners took advantage of their laves and ordered them to commit acts that were more likely in their benefit and not in the slave’s. White males took advantage of the bodies of female slaves purely out of sexual lust and not in respect or love for the Junior member of the household. There might have been a “soft-paternalistic” prevalence in this period as some white families did regard their slaves as members of the household, but these proofs are minor and is not able to motivate that paternalism widely existed among slaves and their masters.

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