In the U.S. its been proposed that the slaves were indeed not treated cruel, for they were expensive and hard to get. First off blacks had no say in where they went and were often kidnapped from villages and shipped to the Southern colonies, etc. They were sold like cattle on auction blocks. The above is partially true, but during slavery in the deep South slaves were flogged and sometimes killed in a gruesome way to leave a sign to other slaves what would happen to them if they were to flee the plantation. However, there were some Plantation Owners who did treat their slaves quite well and in some cases often would let them have a piece of land to work on their own. If a slave was caught trying to learn to read they were severely punished. The people of the South were terrified that knowledge could create the blacks to revolt against them because blacks out-numbered the whites during these times. It wasn't until President Abraham Lincoln freed the slaves that they were truly free, but were they? The South was divided against this and even though a slave could have papers from their Master saying they were free other Southerners did not take kindly to it so not much had changed and it was a hard life for the slaves. Thus, the Canadian Underground Railroad came into effect to help blacks escape slavery. Even some Southern people helped to relocate these people. Some slaves even though freed chose to stay in the only life they knew and that was to work for the Plantation Owner. It wasn't until the late 50s that Blacks were taken seriously and some changes were made to initiate blacks into the American culture.