Slavery in the eighteenth century was worst for African Americans. Observers of slaves suggested that slave characteristics like: clumsiness, untidiness, littleness, destructiveness, and inability to learn the white people were "better." Despite white society's belief that slaves were nothing more than laborers when in fact they were a part of an elaborate and well defined social structure that gave them identity and sustained them in their silent protest. In their quarters, slaves expressed themselves with some what more freedom from white slave owners. Religion provided a feel of similar freedom and also gave slaves mental support.
By attending church, slaves created a Christianity that emphasized salvation for every race, including slaves. To avoid over work slaves tried to work at their own pace and resist speedups. Some of the techniques they used to prevent work were to fake illness or pregnancy, break or misplace tools or fake ignorance. Unless slaves lived near free territory, or near a city where they could blend into a free black population, they knew that permanent escape was unlikely. Only rarely, did a large group of slaves attempt a mass escape and maintain an independent freedom for long periods of time. On numerous occasions groups of runaway slaves either attacked white slave pa trollers or tried to bribe them.
When slaves became desperate enough, they openly resisted their masters. Numerous examples show how slaves refused to accept punishment and battled with their white masters who were trying to give punishment. Slave resistance was rarely successful because most masters would not tolerate it. Whether slaves physically or verbally opposed a white man it was dangerous. Slave's masters consistently tried to erase African culture from their slave's memories. They insisted that slavery had rescued blacks form the barbarians from Africa and introduced them to the "superior" white civilization.
Some slaves came to believe this propaganda, but the continued influence of African culture in the slave community added slave resistance to the modification of African culture. Some slaves, for example, answered to English name in the fields but use African names in their quarters. The slave's lives were filled with surviving traits of African culture, and their artwork, music, and other differences reflected this influence. Slaves also injured themselves to avoid work, punishment, or sale. They cut off their own fingers, hands, toes, or feet, and disfigured body in various other ways to make themselves less valuable slave property. There is even some evidence of parents murdering their children to keep them from having to live lives as a slave.
The main goal of resistance from slaves was to survive and to insure the most decent life possible. Slaves rarely were able to overcome the master's control over them, but they were able to somewhat prevent such control from becoming total. Slave resistance allowed enslaved people to hold out until the spark of the civil war freedom for all slaves.