Even though slave marriages were not allowed in the Southern States, some historians argue that slave owners often encouraged monogamous relationships in the slave community in order to make them exercise control over these slaves. They considered that a married slave was less likely to show rebellion or run away to leave their beloved family behind, considered to a single slave. Nevertheless, these families experienced rapes, whipping and were often separated through the sale of the wives and children. Despite these factors, the family retained its traditional functions, majorly child rearing: the family ensured that children were brought up, even though children were neither allowed to choose their co-parents nor the parents to choose their sexual partners. Additionally, parents could not protect their children, husbands their wives or themselves from the hostility of their owners. However, these slave families natured and maintained family relationships as much as they could (Blassingame, 1979). Fathers acted with obedience and submission to their masters in the plantations and as men in the quarters. This taught the children to learn that submission was meant to avoid punishment and behavior in the quarters as the true behavioral model (Blassingame, 1979).
The slave families maintained their traditional religious practices in the slave country such as funeral rites, ritualistic singing and dancing and grave decorations. However, in the Great Awakening of the 18th century, Christian missionaries and slave owners started convincing the slaves through promising them that they could ensure love, heal the sick as well as make the masters kind (Herbert, 1986). This did not erode the African religion, but infused with it and many slaves were converted to Christianity by protestant churches, particularly the Baptist and Methodist denominations. Even though the slave owners restricted them from worshiping, they often confined themselves in secret places where they could worship together. In my opinion, both family and religion brought resistance to slavery since the slaves got time to sit together and share in the family and in worship places.
Blassingame J. W., (1979). The Slave Community: Plantation Life in the Antebellum South, revised edition. Oxford: Oxford University Press.
Herbert S. K. Professor of History Columbia University (1986). African Slavery in Latin America and the Caribbean. Oxford: Oxford University Press.