What was Thompson’s theory of the relationship between sanctions and slavery?

John Thompson was born a slave in Maryland in the year 1812, one of seven children he grew up in the lifestyle of slavery, later on in life he escapes slavery to become a free man. He wrote an autobiography of his life, that in my opinion, gave a great insight to life as a slave.

Slavery was an evil system, not only because innocent people were treated as possessions of another man, but also because many of them were treated in an unjust manner, and some were beat without a  cause.  There was not a universal way that all of the slaves were treated, it changed from owner to owner, but some of the owners had to have been complete mad men to have the capability of treating a human being in the way that they did.  Thompson describes one young man, a hard worker and huge asset to the owner, who was beat horribly without a valid cause, and during his recovery he said that next time he would kill the man and be hung at once so that he would not have to tolerate the brutal suffering of the beatings.  The man was suffering so badly that he was ready to die at once to put an end to it all.  Later on, Thompson writes of a time that he was prepared to do the same thing, but the cruel owner died in a fire, Thompson saw this as the providence of God.

As Thompson describes in his autobiography, the slave owners who whipped without a valid cause had much more retaliation from the slaves, while the owners who took good care of their slaves had much more cooperation.  When negative sanctions were imposed the slaves did not have good relationships with their owners, but when positive sanctions were imposed the slaves had better relationships and put more effort into their work.  It makes sense in situations that we see on a day-to-day basis, a boss that listens to ideas of the employees and makes effort to work with them will gain the highest possible performance from his or her employees.  The boss that makes everybody hate their job will get only the required performance of his or her employees.  When a parent makes time to listen to their child and truly help their child, the child and parent will both be less stressed and achieve a much higher level of happiness.  Positive sanctions will usually create a better result.  Negative sanctions will usually create tension and retaliation, this I believe, was Thompson’s perspective.

While slavery as a whole is wicked, Thompson believed that treating the slaves like actual people, and giving them the required respect, they will in return give a more efficient performance.  This, in my opinion, is true in many other aspects of life.  If you treat a man well, he will perform much better than if you impose negative sanctions without cause.

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