Thursday, February 25, 2010

More Interesting Facts Concerning Slavery and the Civil War

According to a book entitled "Black Confederates and Afro-Yankees in Civil War Virginia," a significant portion of freed slaves actually owned slaves themselves. It would stand to reason that these were relatives, but that wasn't always the case. Justus Angel and Mistress L. Horry of South Carolina each owned 84 slaves. In 1830, one-fourth of all freed slaves owned ten or more slaves, and eight of them owned 30 or more. In New Orleans, over 3,000 freed slaves (28%) owned slaves.

In 1860, only a small minority of whites owned slaves, estimated at 1.4% nationwide, or 4.8% in the South. Contrary to popular belief, slaves and their owners worked side by side, regardless of whether they were black or white. The majority of slave owners owned only one to five slaves. Interestingly, William Ellison, a slave at birth, was South Carolina's largest Negro slave owner in 1860. One has to wonder why a former slave would justify becoming a magnate slave master.

In Virginia, some black slave owners did own members of their families, and freed them in their wills contingent upon their deaths. Freed blacks were encouraged to sell themselves into slavery in order to ensure their adequate care, and "had a right to choose their owner through a lengthy court procedure." One particular freed slave, who changed his name to William Ellison, is documented as treating his slaves poorly. Except for a few female slaves that he kept as "breeders," he sold the female slaves, along with many of their male children. He had a reputation of abusing his slaves by not feeding or clothing them properly, and kept them in a small, windowless building where he would chain up the troublemakers.

This account provides true insight into the actual structure of the Old South, which is far different than what we have been led to believe. Because of significant changes that the South was experiencing, slavery itself would have undoubtedly become obsolete in time. The horrendous trauma that the nation suffered, and still suffers, could have been avoided.

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