Branding Slaves

This is an image of enslavers burning brands into the skin of people they enslaved.
William O. Blake
Grade Level

This text is part of the Teaching Hard History Text Library and aligns with Key Concepts 4 and 8.

Branding of Slaves THH
This text is in the public domain. Retrieved from http://digitalcollections.nypl.org/items/510d47da-ff96-a3d9-e040-e00a18064a99
Text Dependent Questions
  1. Question
    What is happening in this picture?
    The slaver and his men are burning brands into the skin of people he enslaved.
  2. Question
    What is branding and what is its purpose? What is an example of something that might be branded?
    Branding burns a symbol onto the surface of something to indicate the owner of whatever has been branded. Cattle are often branded.
  3. Question
    Given what you know about branding, how do you think white people saw enslaved people?
    It means that they were a lowly piece of property. If they escaped, they could be reenslaved based on the brand.
  4. Question
    How might this belief and the action of branding inform others’ opinions?
    Since slavery was such a large institution, the belief that enslaved were simply property and therefore subhuman must have been held by much of America.
Reveal Answers
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