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Essay: Henry Box Brown

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  • Subject area(s): History essays
  • Reading time: 5 minutes
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  • Published: October 21, 2015*
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  • Words: 1,255 (approx)
  • Number of pages: 6 (approx)
  • Henry Box Brown
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Henry Box Brown shipped himself to Philadelphia, sitting in a cramped position in a box for 27 hours. Like this, since slaves would do almost anything to reach freedom, they would think of long lists of ways to trick their owners and flee to the North. American slavery went on for quite a long time, and during this period, slaves were mistreated, as their rights as humans were violated countless times. It was a daily routine, getting beaten up, whipped, and getting shouted at. Masters would have the ability to say anything or command the slaves to do whatever task they wanted them to do. It wasn’t a situation where the master would have any sympathy towards the slaves. At a low social class, slaves had no choice but to always be obedient, in order to continue their lives. Their lack of power and wealth created a difficult environment for them to live in, and slaves were only given as much materials to be able to survive and perform their tasks. Through American slavery, although slaves had to go through extremely hard situations and had to face consequences, their strong determination to reach freedom was what influenced people the most that slavery had to come to an end.
To slaves, punishments were a typical thing, and they would have to be obedient to their owners no matter what. Slaves had no power, no money, and no choice. Under these circumstances, it was also an obvious fact that they couldn’t trade materials, as well as owning any property. Even in this condition, if they decided to disobey their owners, the most common form of punishment would be whipping. They were tortured to do things that they did not want to, but they could not possibly disagree. The slaves had to work though unpleasant environments. The slave’s life could be differed by their status, but it was true that all slaves were not treated well, no matter how high their status was amongst themselves. Slaves were given the bare minimal materials to be able to survive and work. According to PBS, Bennet H. Barrow, a Louisiana slave owner, wrote about daily beatings and tortures, followed by moral explanations of why punishments are necessary, in his diary. By this, slaves were tortured by the painful consequences, and felt unfair when they were taught that all this action was necessary. The punishments would range from mild and paternalistic to cruel and sadistic, and in some sever cases, they would be hanged or jailed for attempting to escape or disobey. In the process of distributing slaves amongst the south, husbands, wives, and children were frequently sold away from one another. This itself created mental pain for the families themselves, but in front of them waited someone who was going to give them physical pain by commanding them to work outside on a burning hot day. The slaves continued on each day with no choice, in order to avoid the punishments.
When slaves got fed up of the inhumane treatment, they started to attempt to escape. Since the slaves are in the South, they would have to escape as North. In order to do this, they would have to walk for huge distances each day, while hiding from other slave owners. Some would be so desperate to find alternative methods in order to move their bodies across long distances. An example of a brave woman that tried to escape was Harriet Tubman. In order to do so, she discovered a passageway of her own called the Underground Railroad. She managed to reach the North safely, and she came back 19 times in order to save the other slaves. Through this, she succeeded in saving more than 300 more slaves. When fellow slaves felt like giving up, she often said, ‘You’ll be free or die’ and threatened them by holding out a gun. Another brave person is named Henry Box Brown. He tried an alternative method that nobody had ever tried before, after hearing about the many other cases where fellow slaves failed to flee. With the help of two other people, he packaged himself in a box and shipped himself to Philadelphia. It took more than 27 hours, and he was cramped in the box. To avoid being noticed, he barely moved or made any sounds. Bloodhounds would track the slaves’ paths in order to find where they had gone. There were also many ‘WANTED’ posters that were announced to the public so that they could report them if they found someone that matched the description. On the journey, slaves would often die because of the difficulty of finding food and shelter, with no maps. If the slaves were found in the process of escaping, they would go back to their owners, or sold to other owners further south so that it would be harder to escape north next time. In the case where they would be returned to their former owners, they would have to face huge punishments. In the worst cases, they might even go to jail for disobeying their master’s orders. Harriet Jacobs had to see her brother, Benjamin, going to jail for attempting to escape. They would have no power to control this, so they always needed to be mentally prepared for whatever would happen in their future.
As people started to figure out how much torture the slaves were getting, they started changing laws. Slavery had gone on for more than 200 years in the US and they even had to have a Civil War to fight against it. People started to recognize how much work slaves had done to their society and how without them, they wouldn’t have been able to reach this state. In order to balance out the power and rights among the people of the south, slaves were fighting for their human rights. At last, they managed to win over their opponents and claim their freedom. Now, slaves could get the proper treatment and get the basic respects as a human. On December 6th, 1865, US adopted the 13th Amendment to the Constitution, which stopped the practice of slavery.
Since freedom was the one thing all slaves longed for, their strong belief and effort led to teaching the world a lesson. As the world started to recognize the inhumane condition that the slaves were living in and abusive treatment, they decided that it was time give them some respect as a human being. The actions of protest and fleeing showed evident that the slaves were desperate to reach a state where they wouldn’t have to be treated like a toy– being bent, thrown on the ground, and stepped on. To show that the owners and the slaves are both humans and slaves shouldn’t be getting this kind of demeaning treatment, brave souls, such as Harriet Tubman, arose. Feeling sympathy started out from individuals, as it grew to small groups, and finally reaching the government, who took action for the helpless slaves. They took a moment to think how it would feel like to get ordered around to complete severe tasks, being whipped, and only given the most basic materials to survive. As slavery came to a halt, they figured it out: All humans in our world should get respect and proper treatment.

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