TEXT

Branding Slaves

This is an image of enslavers burning brands into the skin of people they enslaved.
Author
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
Source
This text is in the public domain. Retrieved from http://digitalcollections.nypl.org/items/510d47da-ff96-a3d9-e040-e00a18064a99
Text Dependent Questions
Question
What is happening in this picture?
Answer
The slaver and his men are burning brands into the skin of people he enslaved.
Question
What is branding and what is its purpose? What is an example of something that might be branded?
Answer
Branding burns a symbol onto the surface of something to indicate the owner of whatever has been branded. Cattle are often branded.
Question
Given what you know about branding, how do you think white people saw enslaved people?
Answer
It means that they were a lowly piece of property. If they escaped, they could be reenslaved based on the brand.
Question
How might this belief and the action of branding inform others’ opinions?
Answer
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.