There is no doubt that the punishment that was given to the black slaves was more severe than that of the white servants. It is very important to note that, almost all whites did not work as slaves. Instead, the whites worked under their masters as indentured servants. In this system, the white servants could work under their masters for a certain period of time. While the whites did not remain as labor providers for life, the black slaves remained under their masters for life. The white servants also enjoyed another benefit as compared to the black slaves.
The white servants worked in exchange for favors such as food, drinks, or transportation. On the other hand, the black slaves worked tirelessly in the farms and homes without any compensation (Rodriguez, J. 2007). The court rulings on the issue of slavery encouraged more severe punishment for the black slaves as compared to the white servants. Through the court rulings, the incarnation of slavery was made only applicable to the black slaves and the Native Americans. In this case, only the black slaves were considered to be subject to harsh or severe forms of punishment.
The whites were not often treated as slaves, except for those who worked as indentured servants. While the black slaves were executed and exposed to other inhumane forms of punishment, the whites did not undergo the punishments but instead perpetrated the harsh treatment on the black slaves. In the mid 18th century, it became legal to own slaves. Almost all the slave owners were whites, while the majority of slaves were black. The whites considered the black skin as inferior, while the white color superior. In Virginia (US), the racial identity was used as a base upon which court rulings were made.
The law worked to the disadvantage of the blacks during the 18th century when racism was greatly seen in the society. One example of a court case where racial identity was brought out is that of Elizabeth Southward who was charged with the murder of William Walker. Southward was convicted, but the case was a clear indication of how the racial identity of a person influenced the development of laws (Rankin, H. 1965). The slave owners used education and training to promote severe punishment in the black slaves.
For example, the slave owners (mostly white) supported and instilled racial beliefs on slaves. Through the education and training, the slaves were encouraged to accept the harsh treatment they received from their masters. The slave owners did this by instilling a sense of inferiority in slaves, sense do dependence and helplessness, and a belief in superior power of the masters. The black slaves were prohibited from serving as witnesses in a criminal case against a white person. This promoted the punishment of a black slave who could not present his or her case in court.
The white people escaped punishment because no black slave was allowed to serve as witness in a white person’s case. Conclusion In the 18th century, slavery and indentured servant systems were very common. These systems of exploiting labor promoted very harsh methods of punishment on the slaves or servants. These methods of punishment underwent evolution during the period 1701-1800. Some of the punishment methods that were used against slaves included, whipping, branding, mutilation, flogging, execution, and overworking.
Though the punishment methods were meant to instill discipline in slaves, many cases of punishment on slaves was very inhumane and unnecessary. Many slaves died from the punishments. The slavery system was abolished much later, and what remains now is history. In the contemporary world, slavery is still practiced, but not in the way it was practiced in the 18th century.
Berlin, I. , and Joseph P. (1982). Freedom: A Documentary History of Emancipation, 1861-1867 5 Vol Cambridge University Press