The Salve Community


The Salve Community: Plantation Life in Antebellum South was published in 1972 by a renowned historian John W. Blassingame.  The book is a historiography of the era of slavery in the united state.  In order to understand the concept of slavery, the book has been written from the enslaved perspective.

The book is a revisionist study which challenges most of the earlier scholarship which suggests that the African American slaves who worked in the Caribbean plantations were docile and very submissive.   The book challenges the earlier scholarship view that African Americans slaves who worked on southern plantations enjoyed the paternalistic relationship between them and their masters.

Blassingame uses psychology to analyze the narratives from different slaves and published this analysis in the 19th century. He concluded that there were different personally traits that had been exhibited by the slaves apart from the submissive Sambos which lead to the development of a unique independent culture.  In the book Blassigname are that there have never been concerted efforts by historians to explore the life and the experience of slave. Therefore concentration on the information given by the slave owners stereotyped African American slave as submissive sambos.

In bringing out the real life of the salves, Blassingame shows that slaves may have been submissive at work but they held on to their African culture since they spent a lot of their time free from their white masters. They held on to their different cultures like music and the African instruments like drums from wood and skins and banjoes. They spent most of their time singing, dancing, story telling and others. Many of the stories that were retold by slaves have been traced to West African which shows that they retained most of their culture.

Blassingame argues that on African families, they maintained gender roles. However Blassingame arte that salve masters did not interfere with their slave families and instead encouraged monogamous relationship. He argues that the slavery masters thought that a monogamous black man who had a lot of love for his wife and children was more likely to be loyal and therefore less rebellious.  In order to call for submission from the black men, the white masters would ensure that the man lived in the same family with his wife and children. Nothing would have provided the powerlessness of the black man than seeing his wife raped and his children resold as slave.

Blassingame argue that Sambo was a stereotype was very pervasive in Antebellum Southern slave literature. But he argues that this was a making of the white masters which stereotyped the African slaves in relation to Jim Crow and Uncle Tom influence. This presented them as faithful, submissive and superstitious. However there were different personality of the slaves and some were very rebellious as presented by Blassingame. He contends that there was a great drive by African slaves to gain their freedom which overshadowed their stereotyped submissive nature.

However, his work was criticized by other historians who claimed that his methodology and source were no reliable His critics argue that his use of slave narratives was unreliable and very biased and argues about his decision to exclude some 2000 salve interviewees.  They also criticize that the use of psychological theory was not helpful either in his interpretations.

Source by Forest