The Fear of Rebellion

“A great number of southerners at all times held the firm belief that the negro population was so docile, so little cohesive, and in the main so friendly toward the whites and so contented that a disastrous insurrection by them would be impossible. But on the whole, there was much greater anxiety abroad in the land than historians have told of…” – author, Ulrich Phillips (174)

Following years of ruthless oppression and living each day under the fear of a whip, slaves were treated as broken animals; they were trained and disciplined to obey their owners. Slave owners refused to consider the possibility of a slave uprising. Slaves were not acknowledged as human beings with emotions and the capability to think like white people; they were “its”—pieces of property. With this twisted value standard for slaves engrained in Southern culture it is no surprise that slave owners fooled themselves into thinking slaves would endure the unforgiveable trials they were forcibly subjected to. However, under the façade of power and confidence, southerners knew that slaves were just as capable as them. The looming fear of rebellion was widely unacknowledged, so as to prevent slaves from gathering courage from the stories. But the stories were also kept under wraps to preserve the illusion of white supremacy over the enslaved black men and women in the South.