Some enslaved Africans worked in cities in people’s homes or as tradespeople, such as bakers or blacksmiths. Most, however, lived on plantations. They were divided into those who worked in the house and those who worked out in the fields. The house servants took care of the house and the family. They cleaned, cooked, did laundry, and sewed for the family and for the other slaves. The slaves who worked in the fields planted and harvested crops, built and repaired structures, and managed livestock.
For enslaved Africans on plantations the work was always hard. They were punished with beatings or other forms of torture for many different reasons. They did not have enough to eat, decent places to live, or good clothes to wear. They were not allowed to learn to read or write. They could also be sold at any time and separated from their family. Some tried to rebel against their owners, but they would be punished or killed for doing so.