English Lesson 140 Essay


“Would Walden have been a better book if Thoreau had supplied more background information on his life?”


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English Lesson 120 Essay

Solomon Northup was a free black man who was kidnapped and sold into slavery by white men. He was torn from his family and his freedom and forced to live as a slave. His autobiography is titled Northup and if you would like to become well versed with the small details of his life I would recommend reading it.
Northup had something in common with another slave he knew who names was Eliza, in that they had both been separated from their children by slavery. Eliza’s children were taken from her and sold to a man who lived far away. Northup and Elisa had both been through a lot losing their children, but they reacted very differently to their situations. Eliza was crippled with grief, she never really worked as hard again and stayed in despair. She ultimately could not bear it and died. Northup on the other hand missed his kids and he was determined to get back to them.
One reason that Northup’s reaction was so different from Eliza’s was that he was the one taken forced into slavery very suddenly and he was so busy thinking about his situation for the first few weeks that his grief was secondary on his mental agenda. He was so focused on escaping that he didn’t think about the possibility of not seeing his family again. In other words, he did not have the luxury of grief.

Eliza was originally the slave of a rich man who treated her fairly and, while little is known about him, seemed above average in his respect for her. But like so many others, he got into debt and was forced to sell his slaves. Eliza was distraught because of the way that they were separated. The separation was not because of a dislike for her child, rather the opposite. The trader absolutely refused to sell her, saying that “there were heaps of men that would pay good money for her when she’s older.”

Northup’s mindset was that of a free man, one with no master, and no man to rule over him. He didn’t believe that it was “just the way it is”. He was sure he had been wronged and that gave him the determination to keep up hope of escape. Eliza was used to being a slave. She wasn’t hopeful that her situation would get any better, so she fell into despair. She had her spirit and soul broken down whereas Northup was still feisty, or ready to fight back for his freedom, which is a good quality, but not for the slave’s masters, for them he was like a horse, useless if untrained.
I personally believe one of the biggest differences of why their attitude to ever seeing their children again was because Northup never lost hope of seeing his children again. Where as Eliza fell into despair, she had been a slave so long she knew what happened when you try to get anything our way, lashes. I think if Eliza had lived life as a free person than she most likely would also have hope.
He stays strong through most of the book, only at one or two moments does he do something stupid, even under the incredible pressure he stays calm and collected. This pressure of course being the pressure of being separated from his family, being forced into hard work and being taken far away on a ship, from his children.
His life is put in very large amounts of danger and he has to save himself from it, though he would like to mourn for his children necessity demands otherwise.

English Lesson 115 Essay

Did Thompson provide persuasive evidence that South’s slave system was morally evil?
Without a doubt, the Slavery system during Thompson’s time was horrendous and evil. Owning a person against their will is cruel enough, but the way that a  lot of masters treated their slaves was unthinkable. Some of them would whip the slaves mercilessly for no good reason at all, simply so that the slaves would further submit to their authority. Sometimes, the slaves would be whipped brutally for even the smallest of offenses, which barely even warranted any kind of punishment at all.
Throughout the first half of the autobiography, Thompson is constantly giving examples of why he believed that the slave system was evil. He provided several stories and examples of why he believed this, and a lot of them were very convincing. He believed that the system of punishment which was used by the overseers was corrupt and ineffective. He recalls several events where slaves would get whipped to the point where they couldn’t even stand up anymore. Sometimes these slaves were young children, even little girls, who did nothing more than break a dish. Thompson explains that sometimes the whippings were so bad, that death would be better than suffering through more of them. Thompson told the story of the time that he threatened to kill the overseer if he was beaten again. This was because the punishment for killing an overseer was hanging, something that was much less painful than being whipped, even if it resulted in death.
Thompson did give some examples of some more merciful masters, who were more just in their treatment of the slaves, but they were still slave owners none the less. Most of the time, the masters had little to nothing to do with the slaves and their punishments, and the treatment of the slaves was mostly decided by the overseer. If the plantation had a cruel overseer, he could punish the slaves almost any way that he wanted, sometimes for no reason at all. Since the overseer’s word was worth more than the slave’s word, the slaves didn’t actually have to do anything to warrant a punishment. The overseer could simply make something up.

Thompson’s autobiography provided plenty of evidence against the slavery system. He pointed out its many flaws, and gave plenty of examples. He, like many others, agreed that it was corrupting to the master and the slave.

English Lesson 110 Essay: What was John Thompson’s theory on the relationship between sanctions and slavery?

Thompson had an interesting theory on the reason why slaves did not respond well to over the top punishments; he believed that a slave’s productivity would decrease due to their energy going towards resisting. The people who were forced into slavery understood that by responding to being whipped or beaten with working harder, their over-seers would assume it was alright to do so because the slave’s work quality would improve. Many over-seers would give unjust or extreme punishments for things like not bringing enough firewood, even if it was as much as they could lift, or beating a slave for being only a couple minutes past curfew.


However, many slave owners learned that by constantly beating their slaves, they would get the opposite of their desired result. Slaves beaten for no reason often became rebellious, and wouldn’t follow the master’s orders. But, just by giving them some freedoms and not delivering unexplained beatings, slaves would become more compliant. When living under better conditions such as these, slaves were happier and more productive; by treating them with a bit of humanity, a benevolent master would make a slave feel less like livestock and more like part of the team. That feeling made the goal of pleasing the master and making life better and more prosperous on the land they worked on seem reasonable to the slaves.


Unfortunately, not all slaves were able to get owners like this. Many owners were in fact so brutal, that slaves would have rather killed their master and be hung than keep being their slave. In these cases, normally the owner was incredibly vicious, beating or whipping the slave in excess; even if the whipping was within the technical legal limit of thirty-nine lashes, many slaves still became fed up with it and would fight back. There were numerous cases of frustrated slaves, punching, kicking, or choking their masters, even to the point of their master passing out for days. After a case such as this happened, the slave was normally sent to the outer-most field to work in solitude. But even after being sent to the outer-most field of the property alone, none of the slaves tried to escape. It was believed that the reason was that they were left alone with just their work, and that made them happy.


While Thompson never directly discussed how he thought a slave should be disciplined, it was very clear that he did not believe physically abusing the slaves were necessary, much less productive. While he didn’t condemn the use of physical discipline, he did make the distinction that an overzealous over-seer can do more harm than good. In his autobiography, Thompson don’t always make his positions on every form of sanctions against slaves clear, but his message against the use of brutal, inhumane whippings is indisputable. In the pre-Civil War South, Thompson seems to make the case that slaves responded better to positive reinforcement than to physical punishment.