Willie Lynch Letter: The Making of a Slave

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Willie Lynch Letter: The Making of a Slave

Lynch’s Speech on the Bank of the James River

The infamous The Willie Lynch Letter and the Making of a Slave can provide you with insights regarding the African slave trade and the inhumane psychology behind it. Back in the 18th century, when slaves were used as a cheap labor force, certain American slaveowners sought a chance to exchange their views on solidifying control over the enslaved with the British colonists. Willie Lynch’s letter, containing several descriptions of such methods, was first presented to publicity at the end of the 20th century and is read and studied by historians even now.

In 1712, Willie Lynch, a slave owner in West Indies, traveled to Virginia to share his experience of exacerbating control of slaves, which he believed to be the locomotive for economic growth. He first addressed the slaveholders of America on the bank of the James River, where he presented the enslavement methods he used at his “modest plantation.” Since then, his name has become a symbol of brutal enslavement.

The Methods of Controlling Black Slaves: Distrust, Fear, and Envy

In the speech delivered by Willie Lynch in Virginia in 1712, it was noticed that the colony was apparently experiencing particular problems with controlling their black population. Inflicting pain, wounding, and hanging slaves were no longer efficient methods of influence, he said. Willie remarked that he had carried out certain experiments at his “modest plantation in the West Indies” and came up with good techniques, which, he supposed, could help the slave owners of Virginia to improve their authority among the blacks. First, he introduced a list of metrics he used to differentiate slaves:

  • Age;
  • Skin color (shade);
  • Intelligence;
  • Size;
  • Sex.

Willie Lynch declared that it was utterly important to put the slaves into categories according to those differences and pitch blacks against each other, considering they have nothing in common. An old black male was supposed to be pitched with a young black male, a light skin slave with a dark skin slave, a male slave with a female. According to Lynch, that could instill distrust and envy among the enslaved blacks, who would eventually find it safe to trust, respect, thank, love, and depend on their owners only. After receiving this indoctrination, he believed slavery would remain efficient for at least 300, or even thousands of years.

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Let’s Make a Slave

Studying blacks was essential for establishing a solid advantageous master/slave relationship. Frederick Douglas’s scientific inquiry was supposed to help raise numerous generations of self-refueling, self-generating blacks, contributing to the state’s economic prosperity. In his work, the slaveholder described a process of man-breaking and slave-making. However, he found breaking a slave necessary concerning financial management and critical for the owner’s safety. Otherwise, a white family could not rest assured without anticipating the possibility that an African slave could attack them in their sleep.

He introduced several terms used in his work:

  • Orbiting cycle. A thing turning in a given path;
  • Axis. An imaginary line upon which a body rotates;
  • Phenomenon. An extraordinary conception, whose cause or explanation is in question;
  • Multiplicity. A large number or variety.

Cardinal Principles

Short-term planning never comes with guarantees. That is why Douglas was focused on manipulating the black females and the younger slaves, who, he assumed, would then raise their offsprings in an even better way for still more comprehensive economics. His most crucial point was affecting the black’s mentality and psychological health whilst maintaining their physical features at a high level.

A Horse and a Slave

Slavery management was compared to using horses for economic purposes. The document contains a description of a horse-breaking process, which was supposed to be similar to breaking African Americans. First, it was recommended to break the stud for limited containment. Then, subjugate the female horse until it is totally submissive, gentle, and comfortable to use.

Once an offspring is bred, it was suggested to leave the stud free until it was needed later and watch the mare teach the infant horse to eat from the master’s hand, following its own example.

The slave owner also mentioned crossbreeding. This method of creating new species was implemented to produce better labor forces. Not only horses but also African Americans had to be crossbred, according to Douglas. A multiplicity of colors was expected to appear if white people and enslaved females with dark skin gave birth to children, who, in their turn, would be mated after becoming fertile and able to prolong the cycle until forever.

Breaking an African Woman

Douglas assumed that affecting a black female was the key factor in breaking the will of the blacks. An African woman turned into a fearful slave, who has experienced brutal physical punishment, would teach her offsprings to be submissive and never resist.

To achieve that result, the slaveholder suggested destroying a male image in front of her eyes so that the woman would feel left alone and terrified for the life of her child. That helplessness was supposed to impel her never to show her will, please her master, and teach her young black offsprings to act the same. A male child would have become mentally weak and dependent but physically strong and committed to labor. A female child would have grown into an unprotected slave, just like her mother, thus becoming a role model for her own girls.

Shifting Gender Roles

The roles of a male and a female, which Douglas believed to be natural, were supposed to be completely reversed, as men would become faint and deficient. In contrast, women would follow their mothers’ examples and mature into independent and negotiable adults.

An Orbiting Cycle

A particular example was described in Frederick Douglas’s work. He depicted a highly probable course of events if two female slaves gave birth to two children of different sexes. Having their male fathers away, they would be raised with the gender positions shifted. After the black male child and the black female child reach reproductive age, it was recommended to mate them and continue the cycle.

Controlled Language

It was declared in the study that white people were to adjust the language they used when speaking to their black slaves. The author outlined that understanding the language and perceiving its undertones could lead to certain enlightenment of black slaves. That scenario was inadmissible for the desirable western economic prosperity.

Possible Interloping Negatives

Douglas was sure that the only obstacle that could ruin his plan would arise if the gender positions of black men and women reshifted again, as human nature seemed quite likely to defend against such intervention. The solution he introduced was creating a bunch of illusions and shaving off the blacks’ mental history.

Post Scriptum

In 1832, a man called Henty Berry took the floor in the Virginia House of Delegates. The speech given by him was meant to report on the outstanding results of managing slaves and strengthening control over black people. Berry announced that the new methods, implemented in the 18th century after studying the matter more closely, had helped the slaveholders of America develop a new control system, making it almost impossible for the slaves to resist their masters. He said that the American people had “closed every avenue by which alight may enter their (the slaves) minds.”