White slave owners were very contradictory as they chose to believe some of the things their slaves said, but doubted them in many other situations. Some slaves, when asked if they wanted to be free, would reply that they did not want to be free and were happy with how they lived their lives in servitude. Stampp says that supporters of slavery took those slaves at their word and believed they were happy living without freedom. In these instances, slave holders believed their slaves. This was contradictory because they distrusted many of the other ways their slaves acted.
Some slave holders believed that when their slaves were acting as though they were stupid, that they were not stupid at all and were just trying to work less. For these reasons, owners gave their slaves sub par equipment so that if slaves broke the tools, it would not be at a high cost. They also kept a close watch over their slaves to insure that they were working and not hurting the fields, breaking the tools, or working too slowly. To have such a great amount of suspicions towards their slaves contradicts how some actually believed their slaves when they said they were content being slaves.
A number of slaveholders did not wholly believe their slaves when they resisted work by claiming illness or disability. Some would feel cheated by their slaves because their slaves were not working. In many cases, if they forced them to work after they had complained, then the slaves would work slower and ineffectively. Some felt cheated by that behavior as well and suspected their slaves of having the ability to work harder and were simply choosing not to. Since they chose to believe slaves when they said they were content, and chose to doubt them when they were avoiding work, some slave owners were inconsistent. Slave owners chose to believe their slaves when it suited them and chose to accuse them of being liars when it did not. Slave owners acted contradictorily for their own benefit.

AJJ- The way many southern plantation owners treated their slaves was extremely illogical, cruel, and somewhat ironic. Many saw slaves as extremely unintelligent pieces of property who’s sole purpose was for profit while at the same time entrusting the slaves with the well being of their home, their family, their crops, and their life in general. They were even provided with low quality equipment instead of higher quality equipment because owners distrusted slaves too much and thought they were too stupid to use the better equipment.

Despite the value the slaves had, they were also treated quite unfairly. Brutal beatings and harsh punishments occurred which lowered the morale of the slaves. With the lower morale came lower production and despite this poor conditions still continued to exist for slaves. Slaves became disenfranchised with their owners and running away from plantations became a more commonplace occurrence. In all reality often it was not the slave who was ignorant but the master. Slaves often had to work through extreme illness because masters thought it to be an attempt to get out of doing their work. Some even forced slaves to work harder after they complained to attempt to avoid the problem completely. As time went on conditions got more harsh and it was obvious that a vast problem was to ensue. Because of the vast ignorance of slaveholders, slaves proved to be the most troublesome property in history creating a problem which would only take a civil war to solve.

J.R.C.- Despite common belief, African slaves understood and accepted the lives they lived, often acting in such ways to maintain their lifestyles. For example, most masters believed they understood their slaves, and in response, slaves never attempted to discourage this idea. In some cases, slaves responded to questions of their desire of freedom with negativity. This proved that slaves understood their subservient roles in society, but accepted and desired to maintain their master’s trust.
Completely based on inference, one may find that slaves did in fact know of freedom. With emancipated slaves and white leaders all around them, inferences lead to slaves having full knowledge of what could be achieved in their lives - freedom. In understanding the concept of freedom, slaves did desire such benefits, but simultaneously, the majority of slaves had an unarticulated drive, solely for the escape from burdens and restraints. Despite all of the temptations liberty and freedom had to offer, many slaves had no other practical choice, but to yield to their master’s authority. This demonstrated the acceptance of their lifestyles and the understanding of their sub-dominancy in the world at this point. Upon the realization of their enslavement, many blacks did protest. Despite this idea, many other slaves happened to pursue a course that lead to a simple conscious reflection of the harms of slavery. These simple reflections exemplified the idea that certain slaves simply accepted the idea, but in parallel, realized the damages of their bondage. Many slave masters believed that their slaves were subservient, undereducated beings, but much evidence shows that during these times, slaveholders were clearly wrong, for African slaves accepted, understood, and acted according to the maintenance of their current lifestyles.
be careful about making statements like this -- can get you into trouble