Most aspects of slave family life were influenced by the needs and attitude of the plantation owner. Legally, slave marriages were not recognized; the law dealt more with the issues of ownership. Children of slave unions belonged to the mother’s owner. Financial difficulties or death of the owner could prompt sales of slaves, separating families.
Medical attention for slaves varied from home remedies to physicians hired by the plantation owner – and could depend on the economic impact of the disability. The owner determined the amount of work pregnant slave women performed and the care their infants received. Infant death was high in the slave community.
Tasks often brought owners and the enslaved into physical contact. One example is a slave's task to care for the owner's child on a daily basis, spending more of the day with that child than her own.
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