By Larry Koger
Have been black masters varied from white? An research of all facets and especially of the commercialism of black slaveowning debunks the parable that black slaveholding was once a benevolent establishment in accordance with kinship, and explains the transition of black masters from slavery to paid exertions.
Read Online or Download Black Slaveowners: Free Black Slave Masters in South Carolina 1790-1860 PDF
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Additional info for Black Slaveowners: Free Black Slave Masters in South Carolina 1790-1860
As we leave the confines of Charleston City and enter into the rural areas of South Carolina, the census returns become difficult to interpret. In the back country, free blacks occasionally resided on plantations and farms which had white owners. It was not unusual for free blacks to work on plantations and farms as slave drivers and overseers. Consequently, when the white owners left their estates during the summer season to escape the dreaded fever, or when they were simply absentee planters, their free black slave drivers and overseers were left in charge of the estates.
Many of the black masters in the lower South were large planters who owned scores of slaves and planted large quantities of cotton, rice, and sugar cane. In 1860, for example, Auguste Donatto, a free colored planter of St. Landry Parish in Louisiana, owned 70 slaves who worked 500 acres of land and produced 100 bales of cotton. About 600 miles to the east of Louisiana in the county of Sumter, South Carolina, William Ellison, a free colored planter, used the labor of 70 slaves to cultivate 100 bales of cotton in 1861.
Within ten years, he sold the slaves and moved to Colleton District. While some free blacks moved to different parts of the state, others simply left the state and settled in Northern cities. Shortly after Thomas Hanscome purchased a slave named James from the estate of his mother-in-law, Martha Inglis, he left the state and moved to Philadelphia in 1845. Before his departure, he requested that John G. Garden should be given the power to manage his slaves and other investments) Between 1850 and 1860, the number of black slaveholders decreased from 297 to 171, which was a loss of 126 slaveowners or a decline of 42 percent.