The Master-Slave Relationship

A study in the transformation of the master-slave relationship in America.

This paper examines the history of the master-slave relationship in the colonization of the American colonies. It describes slavery as a dynamic institution, in which the relationship between masters and slaves dramatically altered over time to become more humane. The paper illustrates the effects of the American Revolution and the Industrial Revolution on their relationship.
“At first, the master-slave relationship was somewhat more relaxed than it would be years later. Many of the first black slaves were treated as indentured servants, with a limited period of servitude, before their masters would grant them liberty and land. However, by 1660, a full system of black slavery was in operation and the master-slave relationship became worse. Many of the early colonial Southern masters treated blacks like they were inferior to the white population (Elkins, 1976). The first American census, which was established in 1629, segregated blacks from whites. Slave masters often did not provide personal names for the slaves, instead treating them as objects.”