John Thompson was born into slavery in Maryland in 1812. He was sold and leased out to many different masters and mistresses until he escaped at the age of 25. After his freedom, he married and joined a church, but since there was a high risk of being reclaimed and dragged back into slavery, he worked as a steward on a ship for a couple years before returning to his family,when it seemed safe enough.
So the question is “What was Thompson’s theory of the relationship between sanctions and slavery?” First of all, the term “sanctions” can either be good or bad but the word on its own is usually seen as a negative word, to impose penalty or punishment. So there were two kinds of slave owners, one with positive, the other with negative sanctions.
Those with negative sanctions beat their slaves unmercifully. They even whipped without cause and just for the pleasure of it, on which we should all agree, is unjust. This not only physically harmed their slaves, but this action is also a major discouragement to the slaves. Feeling unmotivated to work and dislike toward their master or mistress which can be extended to the point of wishing to kill or be killed. Thompson shares that one slave, a hard working and earning man, was whipped and tortured so brutally, that while he was recovering he expressed his wish to kill the man who had whipped him then be hanged afterward, an end to his problems and misery. Thompson shared these same feelings at one point but was stopped since the man, he wished to end, died in a fire.
Owners with positive sanctions, disciplined their slaves if needed, and chose to reward for doing good instead of punishing for doing bad. This way of acting will make the slaves more motivated to work more and keep them in a both mentally and physically good shape. I believe that using positive sanctions are better than negative sanctions. It not only helps the slave but also the owner too. The slaves work better and the relationship between the two could be great.
You might be thinking then, why did most slave owners use negative sanctions when using positive sanctions could be a win-win? I think it is the minds of the owners. They saw the colored race as inferior to them. So they wanted to make the slaves’ lives as miserable as possible, constantly reminding them that they were different and that they were under the power of the whites.

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