Pub. date: 2008 | Online Pub. Date: June 25, 2008 | DOI: 10.4135/9781412963978 | Print ISBN: 9781412909280 | Online ISBN: 9781412963978| Publisher:SAGE Publications, Inc.About this encyclopedia
In an 1851 report commissioned by the Louisiana State Medical Association, physician Samuel Adolphus Cartwright summarized putative physical characteristics and health conditions of those of African descent in the state. He identified drapetomania as a unique, though vaguely defined, condition, with the key symptom of fleeing from enslavement. Citing supposed physiological differences and the Christian Old Testament as evidence that people of African descent were destined to obey and serve, Cartwright concluded that drapetomania was a risk whenever masters either treated the enslaved as equals or treated them with cruelty. Drapetomania could be prevented by beatings, administered if enslaved Africans showed sulkiness or dissatisfaction without obvious cause. Forbidding alcohol, eliminating visits ...