The Concept of Property and Ownership in the Antebellum American South: Slaves, Slaveholders, Theft, Conflict and the Law

By John Wood
Interstate - Journal of International Affairs
2015, Vol. 2014/2015 No. 1 | pg. 3/3 |

Conclusions

The philosophical conception of slavery seems to suggest that there was an unresolved issue between Locke’s ideas and the de facto operation of slavery in the South with respect to legitimising ownership of slaves as property. This was recognised by both the early theorists of the American nation and its more intellectual slaveholders. The evidence for this is the continual difference in the status of the slave as a person, and as property under the laws of the South. This was a problem that was largely ignored, and when under attack from the Abolitionist Movement, the philosophical basis of slave ownership changed to rely on paternalist foundations which were largely false. This difference in the validity of the foundations of the nature of slaves as property was a substantial cause of the tensions between North and South in the origins of the Civil War.

For the slaves, there was a constant struggle to test and redefine the limits of property allowed to them by their masters. Sometimes this was subconscious, as with the formation of a unique slave sphere of property, based on communal customs and the limited trade allowed by the master. Sometimes this struggle was conscious and explicit, as shown through slave customs of support for runaways and the perceived difference of taking from the master class as being different from a criminal act.

The masters, wishing to base their conception of slave ownership on the paternalist duty of care, failed to reconcile economic necessity to paternalism. The slave as an economic entity had to remain the first priority of the slaveholding, as it was only through their slaves’ labour that they could prosper. Thus the master’s duty of care only extended as far as creating the greatest economic efficiency in their work force. The incentives they sometimes used to maximize this efficiency, such as cash payments and the grants of land for the slave’s to work for themselves ended up threatening the wider intellectual conception of slavery itself, as it gave the slaves property. Underlining the inherent weaknesses of the basis of slaves as property in the antebellum south by returning to the arguments of the Lockean paradigm, once the slaves owned property, they were, within the wider conception of property as a basis for liberty, partially free.


References

Books

Ashworth, J., Slavery, capitalism and politics in the Antebellum South, Volume One, (CUP, 1995, Cambridge)

Davis, C. T., & Gates, H. L., The Slave’s Narrative, (OUP, 1985, Oxford)

Elkins, S. M., Slavery 3rd Edition (Chicago UP, Chicago, 1976)

Fogel, R. W., & Engerman, S. L., Time on the Cross: The economics of American Negro Slavery, (Wildwood House, 1974, London)

Genovese, E. D., The political economy of Slavery: Studies in the economy and society of the Slave south, 2nd Edition, (Wesleyan University Press, 1989)

Gilmore, T. (Ed.), Revisiting Blassingame’s The Slave community: the scholars respond, (Greenwood, 1978, London)

Gross, A. J., Double Character: Slavery and mastery in the Antebellum Courtroom, (Princeton UP, 2000, Oxford)

Halpern, R. & De Largo, E., (Editors), Slavery and Emancipation, (Blackwell, Oxford, 2002)

Harris, J. W. Editor, Society and Culture in the Slave South, (Routledge, London, 1992)

Huston, J. L., Calculating the Value of the Union: Slavery, Property rights, and the economic causes of the Civil war, (North Carolina UP, 2003, London)

Kolchin, P., American Slavery, (Penguin, London 1993)

Kolchin, P., Unfree Labour: American Slavery and Russian Serfdom, (Belknapp, London, 1987)

Morris, T. D., Southern Slavery and the Law 1619-1860, (North Carolina UP, 1996, London)

Parish, P. J., Slavery: History and Historians, (Harper & Row, New York, 1989)

Wahl, J. B., The Bondsman’s Burden: An economic analysis of the Common Law of Southern Slavery, (CUP, 1998, Cambridge)

Articles

Blassingame, J. W., ‘Using the Testimony of Ex-slaves: Approaches and Problems’, The Journal of Southern History, Vol. 41, No. 4, pp. 473-493.

Chan, M. D., ‘Alexander Hamilton on Slavery’, The Review of Politics, Vol. 66, No. 2, pp. 207-231

Crowther, E. R., ‘Holy Honour: sacred and secular in the Old South’, Journal of Southern History, Vol. 58, No. 4, pp.619-636

Flanigan, D. J., ‘Criminal procedure in Slave trials in the Antebellum South’, The Journal of Southern History, Vol. 40, No. 4, pp. 537-564

Forret, J., ‘Slaves, poor whites and the Underground economy of the rural Carolinas’, The Journal of Southern History, Vol. 70, No. 4, pp. 783-824

Foster, G. M., ‘Guilt over Slavery: a historiographical analysis’, The Journal of Sothern History, Vol. 56, No.4, pp. 665-694

Franklin, J. H., ‘Slaves virtually free in Ante-bellum North Carolina’, The Journal of Negro History, Vol. 28, No. 3, pp. 284-310

Gorman, R. M., ‘Blazing the way: the WPA Library service demonstration Project in South Carolina’ Libraries and Culture, Vol. 32, No. 4, pp. 427- 455.

Jefferson, T. and Magnis, N. E., ‘Thomas Jefferson and Slavery: An analysis of His racist thinking as revealed by his writings and behaviour’, Journal of Black Studies, Vol. 29, No. 4, pp. 491-509

Lichtenstein, A., ‘’That disposition to theft, with which they have been branded’: Moral economy, Slave management and the law’, Journal of Social History, Vol. 21, No. 3, pp. 413-440

Loewenburg, R. J., ‘John Locke and the antebellum defence of Slavery’, Political Theory, Vol. 13, No. 2, pp. 266-291

Lyman, J. L., ‘Jefferson and Negro slavery’, The Journal of Negro Education, Vol. 16, No. 1, pp. 10-27

Morgan, P. D., ‘The ownership of Property by Slaves in the Mid –Nineteenth-century Low country’, The Journal of Sothern History, Vol. 49, No. 3, pp. 399-420

Palmer, V. V., ‘The customs of Slavery: The war without arms’, The American Journal of Legal History, Vol. 48, No. 2, pp. 177-218

Rosenstone, R. A., ‘The Federal (Mostly Non-) Writers Project: A review of A study in Government Patronage of the Arts by Monty Penkower’, American History, Vol. 6, No. 3, pp. 400-404.

Schwartz, P. J., ‘Jefferson and the Wolf: The sage of Monticello Confronts the Law of slavery’, OAH Magazine of History, Vol. 8, No. 4, pp. 18-22

Schweninger, L., ‘Slave independence in South Carolina, 1780-1865’, The South Carolina Historical Magazine, Vol. 93, No. 2, pp. 101-125

Soapes, T. F., ‘The Federal Writers Project Slave Interviews: Useful Data or misleading Source?’, The Oral History Review, Vol. 5, pp. 33-38

Thompson, J. C., ‘Towards a more humane oppression: Florida’s slave codes, 1821-1861’, The Florida Historical Quarterly, Vol. 71, No. 3, pp. 324-338

Van Woodward, C., ‘History from Slave Sources’, The American Historical Review, Vol. 79, No. 2, pp. 470 – 481

Yetman, N. R., ‘Ex-Slave interviews and the Historiography of Slavery’, American Quarterly, Vol. 36, No. 2, pp. 181-210.

Primary Sources

Blassingame, J. W., Slave Testimony: Two centuries of letters, speeches, interviews and autobiographies, (Louisiana State UP, 1977, Baton Rouge)

Breeden, J. O. (Ed.), Advice among Masters: the ideal in Slave management in the Old South, (Greenwood Press, 1980, London)

De Saussure, N. B., Old Plantation Days: Being recollections of Southern Life before the war, (Duffield & Co. 1909, New York)

Douglass, F., Narrative of the Life of Fredrick Douglass, an American Slave, written by himself, (American Anti-Slavery Office, 1847, Boston)

Goodell, W., The American Slave Code in theory and Practice: Its distinctive features shown by its Statutes, Judicial decisions and illustrative facts, (The American Anti-Slavery Society, 1858, New York)

Hammond, J. H. & Bleser, C. (Ed.), Secret and Sacred: The Diaries of James Henry Hammond, A Southern Slaveholder, (OUP, 1988, Oxford)

Jefferson, T., Notes on the state of Virginia with an Appendix, Third American Edition, (Furman and Loudon, 1801, New York)

Kembal, F. A., Journal of a residence on a Georgia Plantation in 1838-1839, (Harper & Bros., 1863, New York)

Locke, J. Second Treatise of Government (London, first published 1690)

Morgan, K., Slavery in America, a Reader and Guide, (Edinburgh UP, 2005, Edinburgh)

Parsons, C. G., An insider view of Slavery: or a tour amongst the planters, (John P. Jewett & Co., 1855, Boston)

Rose, W. L. (Ed.), A Documentary History of Slavery in North America, (OUP, 1976, Oxford)

Stroud, G. M., A sketch of the laws relating to Slavery in the several States of the United States of America, (Kimber and Sharpless, Philadelphia, 1827)

Wheeler, J. D., A practical treatise on the laws of Slavery: being a compilation of all decisions made on that subject in the various courts of the United States and the State Courts, (Benjamin Levy, New Orleans, 1837)

Slave testimonies available from http://memory.loc.gov/ammem/snhtml/snhome.html The Library of Congress’ collection of the former Slave’s narratives collected from 1936-8, sorted by State and volume with relevant slave biographical information (age at time of interview and place of residence at time of interview, if known).

Georgia Narratives, Vol. IV, Part 1

Rev. W.B. Allen, 78, Columbus

Rachel Adams, 78, Putman Co.

Celestia Avery, 75, Troupe Co.

Georgia Baker, 87, Crawfordville

Jasper Battle, 80, Crawfordville

Mississippi Narratives, Vol. IX

Gus Clark, 85

Dora Frank, 81, Jackson

Pet Franks, 92, Monroe Co.

Prince Johnson, ‘at least 86’, Clarksdale

Clare Young, 89, Monroe Co.

Virginia Narratives, Vol. XVII

Charles Crawley, ‘More than 80’, Petersburg

Candis Goodwin, 80, Cape Charles

Mariah Hines, 102, Norfolk

Simon Stokes, 100, Gloucester Co.

Richard Slaughter, 87, Hampton Roads.

North Carolina Narratives, Vol. XI, Part 1

Cornelia Andrews, 87, Smithfield

Charity Austin, 83, Raleigh

John Bectom, 74, Fayetteville

Fanny Cannady, 79, Durham Co.

Harriet Ann Davies, 80, Raleigh

Rev. Squire Dowd, 82, Raleigh

Frank Freeman, 76, Raleigh

Sarah Gudger, 121 (claimed but not proven to have been born before 1820), Asheville

Hector Hamilton, 90

Essex Henry, 83, Wake Co.

Internet Sources

Stanford Encyclopaedia of Philosophy - Locke’s political theory http://plato.stanford.edu/entries/locke-political/#Pro

A racial demographic profile of the United states in 1860 http://www.civilwarhome.com/population1860.htm

Historical records of the Supreme Court of the State of Alabama, rulings upon manumission http://www.lib.auburn.edu/archive/aghy/manumission/creswell.htm


Endnotes

  1. Or more rarely Black African and Native American, as the attempted enslavement of the Native American s in the 17th and 18th centuries had been largely unsuccessful.
  2. Huston, J. L., Calculating the Value of the Union: Slavery, Property rights, and the economic causes of the Civil war, (North Carolina UP, 2003, London), p. 7
  3. Seen as a philosophical justification for the Westward Expansion throughout the nineteenth century, The Native Americans were not using the land (in the traditional conception of the whites) so it could be claimed by the labour of the settlers.
  4. In that by placing a subjective value upon what was there, but not previously valued, they have been invested with the product of our labour.
  5. The above discourse is a summary of paragraphs 27-43 of Locke, J. Second Treatise of Government (London, first published 1690), with criticism from the Stanford Encyclopaedia of Philosophy available at http://plato.stanford.edu/entries/locke-political/#Pro
  6. The discipline of legal history has not been in vogue for much of the twentieth century due to the decline of the statist paradigm after the First World War, and before this time there was little interest in the legacy of slavery, but there has been some resurgence in recent years, see for example Palmer, V. V., ‘The customs of Slavery: The war without arms’, The American Journal of Legal History, Vol. 48, No. 2, pp. 177-218, or Flanigan, D. J., ‘Criminal procedure in Slave trials in the Antebellum South’, The Journal of Southern History, Vol. 40, No. 4, pp. 537-56. Much of the contemporary discussion of the role Locke played in the pro and anti-slavery debates such as Loewenburg, R. J., ‘John Locke and the antebellum defence of Slavery’, Political Theory, Vol. 13, No. 2, pp. 266-291, presupposes prior detailed knowledge of Locke, so for the benefit of the historian it is elaborated here.
  7. Adams, S., Writings of Samuel Adams, Vol. 2:299, quoted in Huston, Calculating the Value of the Union, p. 12
  8. Patrick Henry, History of the Virginia Federative convention, quoted in Lyman, J. L., ‘Jefferson and Negro slavery’, The Journal of Negro Education, Vol. 16, No. 1, pp. 13-14
  9. This problem was given its most explicit form on the eve of the Civil War. In The executors of the Creswell Estate vs. Walker, (1861) It was judged that a slave given the option of choosing his legal master upon the death of his previous one, or choosing manumission was judged legally incapable on grounds of capacity to choose his own freedom over slavery.
  10. See Gross, A. J., Double Character: Slavery and mastery in the Antebellum Courtroom, (Princeton UP, 2000, Oxford), introduction, for the different evolutions of the slave as a person and the slave as property through the criminal and civil courts respectively.
  11. Huston, Calculating the Value of the Union, p. 13
  12. Jefferson, T., Notes on the state of Virginia with an Appendix, Third American Edition, (Furman and Loudon, 1801, New York), pp. 125 – 133, exemplars in this text of his thought before his term as President include describing Slavery as ‘this Blot upon our country’, and ending the passage with ‘[may] the minds of our citizens be ripening for a complete emancipation of human nature’ (p. 133).
  13. Thomas Jefferson’s legacy with respect to slavery has been debated at length throughout the twentieth century, and this will probably continue. From the founding of the NAACP to the present there has been a conflict over the traditional hagiography of the founding fathers when their status was combined with that of slaveholder. See for example Lyman, J. L., ‘Jefferson and Negro slavery’, The Journal of Negro Education, Vol. 16, No. 1, pp. 10-27, or Jefferson, T. and Magnis, N. E., ‘Thomas Jefferson and Slavery: An analysis of His racist thinking as revealed by his writings and behaviour’, Journal of Black Studies, Vol. 29, No. 4, pp. 491-509 and Schwartz, P. J., ‘Jefferson and the Wolf: The sage of Monticello Confronts the Law of slavery’, OAH Magazine of History, Vol. 8, No. 4, pp. 18-22, for good examples of the ‘anti’ and ‘pro’ Jefferson camps.
  14. This may be due to the contradictions of his political theory in that he was certainly a racist, thinking that white and black people may not have shared monogenesis, and unable to reconcile the expansion in state power necessary for the dismantling of the slave system, with his fundamental views of the ‘yeoman’ state. Ashworth, J., Slavery, capitalism and politics in the Antebellum South, Volume One, (CUP, 1995, Cambridge), pp. 37-40
  15. Jefferson speaking of George III:-

    ‘Determined to keep open a market where men should be bought and sold, he has prostituted his negative for suppressing every legislative attempt to prohibit or restrain this exorable commerce.’

    Writings of Thomas Jefferson, Federal Edition, Vol. 2, pp. 210-212, quoted in Lyman, ‘Jefferson and Negro slavery’, p. 17
  16. In Jefferson’s second inaugural address on his pervious opposition to slavery:-

    ‘All too well bear in mind that this sacred principle, that though the will of the majority is to prevail, that will, to be rightful, must be reasonable; that the minority possess their equal rights, which equal laws must protect, and their violation be oppressive’.

    Lyman, J. L., ‘Jefferson and Negro slavery’, p. 18
  17. Alexander Hamilton, ‘The Farmer Refuted’ in The Papers of Alexander Hamilton, Vol. 1 pages 88-134
  18. Alexander Hamilton, ‘The Farmer Refuted’ quoted in Chan, M. D., ‘Alexander Hamilton on Slavery’, The Review of Politics, Vol. 66, No. 2, p. 215
  19. Ibid. p. 219
  20. Morris, T. D., Southern Slavery and the Law 1619-1860, (North Carolina UP, 1996, London)
  21. Within the political philosophy of Thomas Hobbes in Leviathan, writing 50 years before Locke, the dangers of the ‘state of nature’ mean that in exchange for the preservation of one’s life, one must be willing to utterly sacrifice one’s freedom to the terms of the protector, as it is the only solution to the constant risk of death.
  22. With the historical exception of the States of Massachusetts and Connecticut, but in the antebellum period either slavery had been abolished (the former) or was rare as to be effectively unnoticed (the later). Wheeler, J. D., A practical treatise on the laws of Slavery: being a compilation of all decisions made on that subject in the various courts of the United States and the State Courts, (Benjamin Levy, New Orleans, 1837), p. 6
  23. Ibid., p. 7
  24. Ibid.
  25. Ibid. Also mentioned in Stroud, G. M., A sketch of the laws relating to Slavery in the several States of the United States of America, (Kimber and Sharpless, Philadelphia, 1827), p. 237
  26. Ibid, p. 238.
  27. ‘The Slave , who is but a ‘chattel’ on all other occasions, with not one solitary attribute of personality accorded to him becomes ‘a person’ whenever he is to be punished! He is the only being in the universe to whom is denied all self-direction and free agency, but who is, nevertheless, held responsible for his conduct… he is under the control of law, though unprotected by law and can know law only as an enemy, and not as a friend.’[italics in original] Goodell, W., The American Slave Code in theory and Practice: Its distinctive features shown by its Statutes, Judicial decisions and illustrative facts, (The American Anti-Slavery Society, 1858, New York), p. 125
  28. Phillips, U. B., The revised Statutes of Louisiana, (New Orleans, 1856), pp.51, Parish of St. Landry v. George (a slave), quoted in Morris, T. D., Southern Slavery and the Law 1619-1860, (North Carolina UP, 1996, London), pp. 226-7
  29. Many of the original titles, often cut down in newer editions to conform to modern style include a sub title similar to ‘Written from a statement of facts made by himself’ or ‘Written by a friend, as recounted to him by Brother [insert name here]’. Davis, C. T., & Gates, H. L., The Slave’s Narrative, (OUP, 1985, Oxford), p. 152
  30. James Olney in ‘’I was born’: Slave narratives, Their status as autobiography and literature’ in Davis, C. T., & Gates, H. L., The Slave’s Narrative, (OUP, 1985, Oxford),pp. 148-175, describes an emergence from the 1830s of a standard template that these autobiographical accounts were almost expected to obey, ranging from the teleological nature of the incidents which memory emphasises lead to the slave’s escape, to the very formatting of the text and supporting sources throughout the work, suggesting this was an publishing industry sector of the times equivalent to the formulaic cowboy novels of the early 20th century, or the noir detective novels of the 40s and 50s. This does not however mean that what is included is not true, as noted by Blassingame in Slave Testimony very few of these narratives were challenged by the Southern white community, introduction, pp. xxiii-xxvii
  31. The key points of paternalism are the inherent superiority of the whites to blacks, due to their ‘childlike’ nature, which he describes as ‘Samboism’, this gave the whites a ‘duty of care and education’ towards their slaves, and so the slaves the responsibility to work for their masters as a reward for this. See Elkins, Slavery, Chapters 3 and 4.
  32. Elkins, S. M., Slavery 3rd Edition., (Chicago UP, Chicago, 1976), See the footnotes between pp. 14-18 for the discussion of the UB Phillips paternalistic paradigm (as described in his book American Negro Slavery, published 1918) being the dominant one for the whole of the period from 1920 and not ‘seriously challenged’ until at least 1944, with the release of Hofstadter, R., ‘U B Phillips and the Plantation Legend’, Journal of Negro History, Vol. 29, No. 1, pp. 109-24, thus dominating the working framework of the FWP writers. For a flavour of American Negro Slavery, ‘In the actual regime severity was clearly the exception, and kindliness the rule’, p. 306
  33. Yetman, N. R., ‘Ex-Slave interviews and the Historiography of Slavery’, American Quarterly, Vol. 36, No. 2, p. 188
  34. Shown throughout the narratives in that there are a great many occasions when it is said that only slaves on other plantations were beaten or whipped, and there is hardly ever a personal tale of stealing from the master, despite reports of it happening being common in general.
  35. Blassingame, J. W., ‘Using the Testimony of Ex-slaves: Approaches and Problems’, The Journal of Southern History, Vol. 41, No. 4, pp. 473-493, and also serving as the lynchpin of the discussion in Gilmore, T., Revisiting Blassingame’s The Slave community: the scholars respond, (Greenwood, 1978, London)
  36. Between 1982-8 three important articles were published stressing the importance of contextualising slave resistance within the wider southern community including Kolchin, P., ‘Re-evaluating the Antebellum slave community: a comparative perspective’, Journal of American History, Vol. 70, and Shore, L., ‘The poverty of tragedy in American historical writing’, South Atlantic Quarterly, Vol. 85.
  37. Gorman, R. M., ‘Blazing the way: the WPA Library service demonstration Project in South Carolina’ Libraries and Culture, Vol. 32, No. 4, p. 428. This was due to the effects of the depression being more severe on agriculture than many other sectors of the economy.
  38. See the narrative of Clare Young, 89, Monroe Co. Mississippi Narratives for an archetypal example of this.

    ‘What does I think about slavery? I tells you I wish it was back. Us was a lot better off in them days dan we is now. If’un Yankees had lef’ us ‘lone we’d be a lot happier. We wouldn’t be on ‘leif [poor relief] en’ old age pension these last years. An’ Jennie May I b’leive… … woulda been the Missus’ smartest gal and stayed at the big house lak I did.’

  39. Kolchin, P., American Slavery, (Penguin, London 1993), p. 141, As an example within the narratives see Harriet Ann Davies, ‘I was nothing but a child, but I know, and remember, I was treated kindly’ (though she stresses she was a mulatto so is possibly somewhat atypical), or Frank Freeman ‘[Master] would not let his slave boys work until they were 13’, this however can be countered by Sarah Gudger ‘If’n children too young to ho’ they be pullin’ weeds[sic]’
  40. Fogel, R. W., & Engerman, S. L., Time on the Cross: The economics of American Negro Slavery, (Wildwood House, 1974, London), pp. 125-6, though all of the figures of Fogel et al must be treated with some scepticism, see Evans, R. J., In defence of History, chapter 2 where Time on the Cross is used as the case study for controversial historical techniques.
  41. Just as an overview of one of the narrative volumes (South Carolina, part 2), out of 30 randomly selected narratives, 5 of the slaves were owned by something other than a professional planter, with a blacksmith, two doctors and two clergymen, which is statistically different from the population at large, where 7 in every 8 slaves where held on larger plantations (20+ slaves), whilst our ratio is 1 to 6 rather than 1 to 8. Kolchin, P., American Slavery, p. 99-101
  42. There are many other examples of this throughout the various narratives, such as in Mariah Hines, describing clothing distribution, John Bectom describing the yearly shoe allowance, and Prince Johnson, who noted that all food was prepared communally except on Sundays.
  43. Both Celestia Avery and Della Briscoe speak of autumn ‘quilting’ where by all the female slaves would travel from house to house, at each one ensuring that the family had enough warm clothes and blankets for the winter by helping finish any the mistress had not already before winter came, thus to some extent creating a sense of communal ownership, as all families contributed to the security of the others.
  44. Kolchin, P., Unfree Labour: American Slavery and Russian Serfdom, (Belknapp, London, 1987), p. 210
  45. Rev. Squire Dowd stole honey from the master whilst tasked as a house boy, Charity Austen stole an egg each day when she was in charge of looking after hens, John Bectom mentions ‘Sometimes slaves would steal the marster’s chickens and hogs and got to another plantation to have them cooked.’ Candis Goodwin volunteered as a teen to watch the master’s children just so she could get ‘jam un’ biscuits … Ef’n dey don’t give me none I jes’ teks some’. Rosa Barnwell, upon gaining a new master harsher than the old, ‘we was never allowed a piece of meat, unless sometime [we] should take a pig on [our] own account’, Blassingame, Slave Testimony, p. 698.
  46. Douglass, F., Narrative of the Life of Fredrick Douglass, an American Slave, written by himself, (American Anti-Slavery Office, 1847, Boston), p. 16
  47. Other examples in the narrative include Dora Franks who would steal on behalf of a slave who ran away during the war and only came out upon emancipation. For more on slave theft as a social study see Lichtenstein, A., ‘’That disposition to theft, with which they have been branded’: Moral economy, Slave management and the law’, Journal of Social History, Vol. 21, No. 3, pp. 413-440, who, following Genovese’s Marxist perspective thinks that the role of slave theft was an effort by the slave to redefine the boundaries of paternalism.
  48. Douglass, Narrative of the life of Fredrick Douglass, p. 52
  49. Fredrick Douglass in a later version of his autobiography (1855 rather than 1847 above), on the same section of slave theft. Quoted in Morgan, K., Slavery in America: A Reader and Guide, (Edinburgh UP, 2005, Edinburgh). Kolchin suggests that this is an issue with the contemporary biographies which distorts their legacy, in that so many of the accounts were written by runaways from slave elites, such as Douglass, who had suffered sudden loss in status, and that this was also what gave them the literacy and articulation to record their experience, for comments on the nature of the morality of necessity would certainly be unusual for a field hand. Kolchin, P., Unfree Labour: American Slavery and Russian Serfdom, (Belknapp, London, 1987), p. 318
  50. Forret, J., ‘Slaves, poor whites and the Underground economy of the rural Carolinas’, The Journal of Southern History, Vol. 70, No. 4, pp. 783-824
  51. Articles here include Philip D. Morgan, "Work and Culture: The Task System and the World of Low country Blacks, 1700 to 1880," William and Mary Quarterly, Vol. 39, No. 3, Betty Wood, '"White Society' and the 'Informal' Slave Economies of Low country Georgia, c. 1763-1830," Slavery and Abolition, Vol. 11, and Lawrence T. McDonnell, "Money Knows No Master: Market Relations and the American Slave Community," in Winfred B. Moore Jr., Joseph F. Tripp, and Lyon G. Tyler Jr., eds., Developing Dixie: Modernization in a Traditional Society (Westport, Conn., 1988)
  52. Those narratives given by Gus Clark, 85, Pet Franks, 92, Monroe Co., Prince Johnson, ‘at least 86’, Clarksdale, and Clare Young, 89, Monroe Co.
  53. These were Rev. W. B. Allen, Georgia Baker and Celestia Avery, though Rev. Allen’s description is of his father, who was a blacksmith and so a much more valuable slave, usually given some leeway compared to normal slave convention. See Harris, J. W. Editor, Society and Culture in the Slave South, (Routledge, London, 1992), pp. 83 which shows that Blacksmiths were sold with between a 50-60% premium compared to the average labourer.
  54. Charles Crawley implies this when he says:-

    ‘Poor white folks like slaves had to get a pass … to sell anything an’ go places or do an’thin’ … dey had to go to sum Big white man like Colonel Allen [his master]’

    Also James L. Bradley, of Arkansas, ‘I used to sleep three or four hours, then awake and work for myself the rest of the night... I used to go out with the hoe and plant little patches of corn… and tobacco. With my first money I bought a pig’. Blassingame, J. W., Slave Testimony: Two centuries of letters, speeches, interviews and autobiographies, (Louisiana State UP, 1977, Baton Rouge), p. 688
  55. When comparing the two sections the Upper South has a white to slave ratio of 4:1 (Virginia) and at least 2:1 (North Carolina), whereas the Deep South has more generally a ratio of 1.1:1 (Alabama, Georgia or Florida) or even 1:1.4 (South Carolina or Mississippi). Where the population of slaves equals or exceeds the number of whites the policing of their activity would inevitably become harder, so it may be that the slaveholders preferred an open market for trade by the slaves that could be regulated to a black market which is mentioned elsewhere and by definition could not be controlled by the slaveholder class. See http://www.civilwarhome.com/population1860.htm
  56. Palmer, V. V., ‘The customs of Slavery: The war without arms’, The American Journal of Legal History, Vol. 48, No. 2, pp. 177-218
  57. De Saussure, N. B., Old Plantation Days: Being recollections of Southern Life before the war, (Duffield & Co. 1909, New York), pp. 78-9
  58. Fitzhugh, G., Cannibals All!, quoted in Halpern, R. & De Largo, E., (Editors), Slavery and Emancipation, (Blackwell, Oxford, 2002), pp. 152 There were many other proponents of a racial difference as the basis of justified paternalism such as Josiah Nott as a proponent of polygenesis and Samuel Cartwright and his ideas of mental illness among slaves, most famously Drapetomania. All of these authors tried to portray a scientific need for the enslavement of blacks based on racial inferiority.
  59. See Foster, G. M., ‘Guilt over Slavery: a historiographical analysis’, The Journal of Sothern History, Vol. 56, No.4, pp. 665-694
  60. Chaplin, T. B., Manuscript Diary entry of May 3rd 1845, South Carolina Historical Association, quoted in Rose, W. L. (Ed.), A Documentary History of Slavery in North America, (OUP, 1976, Oxford), pp. 374. For context the sale was of 8 young males and 2 females, in 1845 worth around $5000 (calculated from values given by Hammond), quite a debt for living expenses at the time. This is also the man who in an undated entry from after the Civil War said, ‘It was a trying time then. But could I or anyone foreseen [sic] how things would be in 19 years when every Negro was set free by force of war… In truth the Negros did not care about us as much as us about them’.
  61. Diary entries of 31/3/1841 and 3/4/1841 respectively, quoted in Hammond, J. H. & Bleser, C. (Ed.), Secret and Sacred: The Diaries of James Henry Hammond, A Southern Slaveholder, (OUP, 1988, Oxford), pp. 49-52. Though it must also be noted that Hammond was a cold man when reading through his diaries and from a sense of superiority disliked not only ‘local society’ but his brother, Washington political society, doctors, horse racing and many other people and topics.
  62. Ibid, p. 102
  63. Genovese, E. D., The political economy of Slavery: Studies in the economy and society of the Slave south, 2nd Edition, (Wesleyan University Press, 1989), Chapter 1
  64. Parsons, C. G., An insider view of Slavery: or a tour amongst the planters, (John P. Jewett & Co., 1855, Boston), p. 125
  65. There are however some historians who stress that throughout the antebellum period the notion of paternalism was in fact strengthening rather than a paper tiger. Crowther, E. R., ‘Holy Honour: sacred and secular in the Old South’, Journal of Southern History, Vol. 58, No. 4, pp.628-31 suggests that the internal reforming tendencies of religion were helping the condition of the slaves and strengthening paternalism in a reaction to criticism from Northern churches.
  66. See Breeden, J. O. (Ed.), Advice among Masters: the ideal in Slave management in the Old South, (Greenwood Press, 1980, London), pp. 114-144
  67. Ibid. Elaborative quotes from this sometimes heated debate include ‘Every planter knows there are some slaves who will barter an individual food allowance away for a little liquor or tobacco… and steal for their improvidence’, pp. 91. From the other side of the argument, ‘Many planters argue that negroes would be happier if their food was cooked for them. [Personal experience shows] the reverse… The simplicity of the negroes’ diet, the very quiet, happy lazy way he has of enjoying his victuals has much to do with his admirable digestion and health’, p. 107.
  68. Ibid. Such arguments by a planter that it was kinder to deny their slaves all opportunities for commerce as, ‘the negroes are prevented from acquiring habits of trading in farm produce, which invariably leads to stealing, followed by whipping, trouble to the master and a [greater] discontent on the part of the slave,’ p. 271. Another example stresses;-

    ‘The system of encouraging slaves to the performance of reasonable labour by giving them crops… is one fraught with evil; nothing but evil, and that continually… it opens a strong temptation to theft… [makes] him vain and arrogant… independent that he will at last come to exhibit it at home… money is power’, pp. 273-4

  69. Ibid. ‘No negro with a full stocked poultry house, a crop advancing, or a few tubs unsold [referring to the craft of cooperage] will ever run away’, p. 266.
  70. Ibid, ‘A human being, the horizon of whose life is never illuminated by the cheerful beams of hope, is devoid of any inducements to praiseworthy actions… and must be driven by fear of punishment… such a one… will be fit only to be constantly under the eye of the overseer’, p.261

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