Slavery As It Exists

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In this assignment you are being asked to analyze a political cartoon regarding slavery. Be sure to read all of the information below, chapter 11 of the textbook, and refer to the Library of Congress for the dialogue.

At the bottom of the page is a political cartoon criticizing abolitionists and a link to the digital archive of the Library of Congress (LOC).  The title of the cartoon is “Slavery as it exists in America. Slavery as it exists in England.” The cartoon is designed to question abolitionists’ assumptions and attitudes about slavery by comparing it to the horrible conditions of English industrial workers.

If it is easier to open it as a link: http://www.loc.gov/pictures/item/2008661524/

Warning- it is almost impossible to read the conversations between the people in the panels, but the drawing is visible. But it is very important that you read the dialogue. To read the conversation, use the Library of Congress  which also provides a transcription of the conversation (very important) as well information about the cartoon such as the date it was published and who published the piece. The Library of Congress ( LOC ) transcription of the dialogue is far easier to read than from the image itself. The first panel of the cartoon is a highly-fictionalized account of slavery and the second is a view of English industrial labors.

Background:

Be sure to read Chapter 11 in your textbook as background on slavery in the American South.

The cartoon is comparing slavery in the American South to English mill workers’ conditions. The following is meant to provide you with background on the English mill workers.

By the time of the publication of this cartoon in 1850, slavery had been abolished in all northern states but was still legal in southern states. Slavery in England had not been legal since 1772 and, it had been abolished throughout the British Empire in 1834. Despite the prohibition against slavery, the people who worked in the cotton mills had few protections and some critics equated them to slaves. The English mill workers in the second panel might appear to be blacks, but they are white English people.

English mill workers were terribly abused by their employers, who often paid them in script rather than British currency. The workers were generally young women and children. The children were often very young:  some as young as 5, but commonly child laborers were hired between the ages of 10 and 12. In 1835, one-third of the English mill workers were younger than 21.

The mill jobs were hard and tedious. Mill operatives (workers) worked 12 or 13 hour shifts, 6 days a week with Sunday being the only day off. A work week of 70 hours was very common.  And overseers often used belts or whips to keep the workers alert.

Understandably, mill employers found it difficult to hire workers, so they often turned to workhouses. Workhouses or poor houses were the government’s way of assisting the poor: they put them in these prison-like institutions. The children of these poor people could be apprenticed to work in the cotton factory. And those children were prohibited from leaving their employers until their apprenticeship was over.

Other mill workers also found they were not allowed to leave their employer: those who were apprentices, those who signed contracts for specific periods could not leave before their contract expired.  And ordinary workers who left without proper notice to their employer could be imprisoned for 3 months.

Instructions:

NOTE: Do not consult any outside sources other than the material from this class. To use outside sources is considered plagiarism and will result in a failing grade for this assignment. (Unicheck a plagiarism tool is used for this assignment)

Review the information in the LOC link and look carefully at the cartoon.  Analyze the cartoon’s central message and explain what comparisons are being made.  Who is the target audience? Is there a particular aspect of this illustration that you find particularly surprising or meaningful? And what does this document tell you about U.S. social tensions in 1850 (in other words relate this to the disagreements over slavery)?  What elements of the illustration support these observations? Is the artist making a valid comparison?

Write an essay (minimum 500 words) answering the above listed questions.  Be sure to support your statements.  Use correct grammar, proper paragraph and sentence construction, and organize your paper logically.  Please double-space your essay.

HINT- Check the rubric to be sure you have covered everything!

The assignment must be submitted on Canvas.  The due date is listed in Canvas. You must submit it on that date or you will lose 5 points if it is submitted the following class period. Papers submitted after that subsequent class day will not be accepted.