and they made their lives
bitter with hard bondage
? ? ? ? ? Exodus 1:14
For the millions of immigrants to this land, America has not been so much a destination as a promise: a promise of equality, a promise of self-determination and a promise of a better life for self and children. Not so for the slave.
With their arrival at the Jamestown colony in August of 1619, twenty captive Africans began a legacy of chattel bondage that by 1860 would include 15 states, 4 territories and the District of Columbia, with 3,952,760 enslaved.
Although mindless labor, physical abuse, and family destruction were typical of slave life, there was yet a greater tragedy. It was the slaves' agony to witness the promise of America enjoyed by others, to help build that promise and be denied its fruits. This indeed may have been the greatest horror of slavery.
You are loosed from your moorings, and are free; I am fast to my chains and am a slave! You move merrily before the gentle gale, and I sadly before the bloody whip! You are freedom's swift winged angels, that fly around the world; I am of iron! O that I were free!? ? ? ? ? Frederick Douglass Narrative
The dark night of slavery closed in upon me; and behold a man transformed into a brute.? ? ? ? ? Frederick Douglass Narrative