What does it mean to be an American? What does it mean to be an American slave? These two questions are ideal thematic rhetorical statements that both Crevecoeur and Douglass write about in various ways. Crevecoeur was not born in the United States, but once he arrived here, he was a free man who made a life for him and his family. On the other hand, Frederick Douglass was born in the United States, but was confined to be a lowly life form other than a human; seen only as an animal used for work, he experienced life from a different perspective. Life in America for a slave was not a dream come true. After families are separated from one another, sold to abusive plantation owners, and made to work on their land, a sense of no hope sets in.
Who I am? I am an American, but I am also Black. To many in the 19th century, blacks were not considered men or women; instead, they were simply tools of trade used to make whites richer. Even as far back as the 15th century, the Spaniards made slaves an important piece of their societal puzzle. Slaves were not seen as equals, just regular workers that had common jobs. According to one of the contributing authors of Black Life and Culture in the United States, Colin A. Palmer;
"Negro slaves played an important role in Spanish life and customs. In the absence of large-scale agricultural enterprises, such slaves were used principally as household workers, stevedores, nursemaids, and porters. Others found their way into the galleys and royal mines, perhaps the most physically demanding of the jobs that slaves had to perform. Faced with the problem of ensuring the security of the realm, the authorities introduced restrictive measures from time to time for the control of the slave population. On the other hand, the slaves possessed certain rights, as outlined by the legal code Las Siete Partidas (89-90).
With this detailed description of slave duties, the evidence is clear that between slaves