Field slaves in the United States

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Field hands were slaves who labored in the plantation fields. They commonly were used to plant, tend, and harvest cotton, sugar, rice, and tobacco.



Field slaves usually worked in the fields from sunrise to sundown while being monitored by an overseer. The overseer ensured that slaves did not slow down or cease their field work until the day was over.[ citation needed ]


Field slaves were given one outfit annually. During the winter time, field slaves were given additional clothing, or material to make additional cloth, in order to keep warm. [1]


Children did not go to school and were put to work as young as they were able. Younger children were given lighter tasks, like fetching meals and guarding livestock. Slave children received little to no clothing until they reached puberty. [2] They were given gender-appropriate clothing.


Women were given long dresses to wear in the summer. During the winter they made themselves a shawl and pantalettes. [3] Women often wore turbans on the heads, covering their hair.


Men were given pants to wear during the summer and then in the winter they were also given long coats to wear. [3]


Field slaves were given weekly rations of food by their master, which included meat, corn meal and flour. If permitted, the slaves could have a garden to grow themselves fresh vegetables. [1] Otherwise they would make a meal from their rations and anything else they could find. [1]

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Betty was a biracial enslaved woman owned by Martha Washington. She was owned by the Custis Estate and worked at Daniel Parke Custis' plantation, the White House, on the Pamunkey River in New Kent County, Virginia. Custis married Martha Dandridge in 1750 and, when he died in 1757, Betty became one of Martha's dower slaves whom she brought to George Washington's plantation, Mount Vernon, after the Washington marriage in 1759. Betty worked at Mount Vernon until she died.


  1. 1 2 3 "Slavery and the Making of America . The Slave Experience: Living". PBS. Retrieved 2013-12-15.
  2. "Slavery and the Making of America . The Slave Experience: Men, Women & Gender". PBS. Retrieved 2013-12-15.
  3. 1 2 "Slavery and the Making of America . The Slave Experience: Men, Women & Gender". PBS. Retrieved 2013-12-15.