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Enslaved African-Americans

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  • I am an enslaved woman in a fine Williamsburg gentry home. I cook all kinds of meals for my master, his mistress, and their children. I do so many things in this house! I also care for my own sons - feeding them, and training them as a mother needs to.

  • Their father, Joseph, lives almost ten miles away and works in the master's tobacco fields, and we hardly ever see him. Since we are slaves, we cannot marry - even though we have the same master. We do not even live together. I miss him badly.

  • Recently, the overseer is awfully hard on Joseph, and thinks that nothing he does is ever right, even when he works hard all day long and obeys every command.

  • Joseph and I worry about our children and their future. What would happen if one of them should have an accident, or became seriously ill?

  • What if the new overseer persuades the master to sell Joseph? Will the master split us up? His daughter is getting married in a few months. he might give some of us to her as her wedding portion! What will happen when the master dies? What can we do, being slaves, to protect our well being?

  • How would you feel if someone told you how your family would live? Would you think of special things to do once you were together? When you grow up to be a parent, how would you like your family life to be different from a slave family‚Äôs?