Slave Weddings and Religion

Sudie Duncan Sides explores plantation life in the Southern states before the American Civil War.

The Southern woman of America’s nineteenth century lived in the carefully proscribed world of most American women, a world defined by men: fathers, brothers, husbands, and sons. Expected to be a gracious and efficient housewife, and to find contentment in the domestic sphere, she was consumed by her children and her home. If she happened to be the mistress of a plantation or farm, she also had charity work to fill time and add variety to the dull routine of her life.

The Southern woman considered herself a kind of missionary and social director, bringing the faith to the black heathen, making their lives a little easier. Her husband encouraged her home missionary work, and while he studied plantation records and the mathematics of production, she worried over the details of religious training and celebrations for the slaves. The guiltier the mistress felt about having slaves, the more seriously she took her work; for this work gave her satisfaction and a sense of having a meaning in her life.

To continue reading this article you will need to purchase access to the online archive.

Buy Online Access  Buy Print & Archive Subscription

If you have already purchased access, or are a print & archive subscriber, please ensure you are logged in.

Please email if you have any problems.