It is estimated that approximately 12.5 million
were imported via the slave trade, however, only a small
percentage by comparison were shipped direct to North
America; the majority of slaves at the time of the Civil War were descended from enslaved Africans.
The life of a slave was often hard; punishment was severe and masters
frequently abused their power. Sadly as slaves were
considered chattels and not citizens, they were not
adequately protected by the law and were subject to the
will of their owner. Despite the fact that it was
illegal to teach a slave to read or write in most states,
some escaped and emancipated slaves published their accounts
in an effort to draw attention to their plight.