tv Southern White Women Slave Owners CSPAN November 30, 2020 6:59pm-8:03pm EST
understanding of our past egging into primary sources and listening to the voices of those not usually heard. today's guest author, stephanie jones rogers has done this in her new book, they were her property, white women as slaveowners in the american south. jones rogers uses an impressive assortment to piece together the stories of the slaveholders and the enslaved with the oral histories of formally enslaved people, news paper advertisements, sales records court documents and more. two weeks ago we displayed the d.c. emancipation act ended slavery in the district of colombian 1862. hey among the records generated as a result of this you will find several references to women owners. to come up for example, sot compensation for their freed slaves, one claiming one slave was a gift from her sister and worth $1500. they were her property has
received a number of highly favorable reviews. a writer because at a stunning new book. the new york times reviewer says it is a tot and cogent corrective that examines how historians have misunderstood and misrepresented white women as reluctant actors. the washington post says elizabeth baron writes that the author has provided a brilliant innovative analysis of american slavery, one that sets a new standard for scholarship on the subject. stephanie jones rogers is an associate professor at uc berkeley where she specializes in african-american history, women and gender history and the history of american slavery. " they were her property" is based on her revised and it dissertation which one applies for the best doctoral dissertation in u.s. history in 2013. listen gentlemen please welcome stephanie jones-rogers. [applause] >> thank you for the
invitation and the introduction, david. thank you all for coming this afternoon and spending your lunchtime with me. it is a pleasure to be here with you today. this is james redpath. in 1859 after touring the antebellum south he attempted to explain for his readers white white southern women opposed the southern emancipation. -- why white southern women opposed southern emancipation. he believed it was tied to a lifetime of indoctrination reared under the saddle of the peculiar institution. slavery was quote incessantly plate -- praised and defended unquote. partially everywhere these
women went by virtually everyone a new and in most publications they read. their consciences were thus easily perverted, redpath argued, or never afterward appealed to. with the result that they saw no reason to change their views. redpath assumed white southern women did not know legal slavery as it is because their society shielded them from the institution horrific realities. insulated by southern patriarchs he argued white women seldom saw slavery's most obnoxious features and they never attend auctions, never witness what were, called
examinations. seldom if ever saw the need grows last. more profoundly they did not know that the interstate trade in slaves was a gigantic commerce. southern men revealed only one view of slavery redpath surmised, and if the women of the south knew slavery as it is he suggested they would join in the protests against it. redpath assumption represent a commonly held picked rocco view. yet narrative sources, legal and financial documents and military and government correspondence make it clear that white southern women new the most obnoxious features of slavery all too well slave owning women not only witnessed the most butyl -- brutal
features of slavery, they took part in them, profited from them, and defended them. after hearing what james redpath said about white women's relationship to slavery, might think that white women were invisible and southern slave markets. they are notably absent from this painting from 1854, which depicts a very public slave auction in the city of charleston, south carolina. or, we might think of them as distance from the horrors of the market, from the sales. but also from the traumatic separation that came after those sales were finalized. we might think that white women and their children were merely passive observers of all of this. and more profoundly that they were powerless to stop these hard enter medic separations, like what you see in this image. this image is a depiction of the kind of trauma and violence of those separations that occurred after a slave auction took place and an enslaved person was sold from their family and highlighted in the yellow box tore the left-hand side of the image you can see a white woman at a child distanced from at separation.
distance from that are and that trauma, separated and indirectly witness to and experiencing it but not directly implicated in the violence and the trauma of the market. but this is not how enslaved and formally enslaved people remember things at all. first, they made it clear, that white southern women's economic relationship to slavery began in childhood. in some cases during infancy. not just in adulthood. fillmore hancock told an interviewer his grandmother was given to the misses as her own on the date she was born. remarkably, fillmore hancock recalled the old medis was only one year old than so his grandmother was given to her mistress when she was only one. one year old. enslaved people and formally
enslaved people talk about the lifelong processes of socialization by which white girls came to understand themselves as markedly different than slave people and the rituals that drove this point home for an slave free people alike. white slaveowning girls also made it clear they had the power to claim other african-americans as their property when they selected specific enslaved children to serve them. when betty coffered was born, her masters daughter ella was only a little girl but she nevertheless claimed betty as her slave. shortly after betty was born. they played together and grew up together, betty recalled. eventually, betty became ella's personal servant, waiting on her and stand behind her chair during mealtime and sleeping beside her on the bedroom floor. more profoundly, formally enslaved people tell us this process of socialization was
effective. why girls often make claims of ownership in their conversations with enslaved people. a formally enslaved woman named melinda recalled her young mistress would frequent the tell her, and i get big and get married to a prince, you come with me and 10 all of my children. and when her mistress did in fact mary, she took melinda with her as part of their new household. as southern girls, young white women thought about how enslaved people would fit into their lives, not just as playmates or companions. but as property. when they were old enough, they turned their imaginings into reality. formally enslaved people are marked upon how this process of socialization also involved lessons about slave management and discipline, what we typically refer to as slave mastery. nancy thomas recalled she was a special little girl for her mistresses harriet's daughter polonia.
even during days she would sew and knit. nancy went on to say how she had a little three legged stool and she would set it between polonius legs while she was setting down. then polonia would watch her while she knitted. if she did something wrong, polonia would pinch nancy's ear and say, you drop a stitch, nanny. as nancy thomas's testimony shows, polonia smith was, what i refer to as, a mistress in the making, responsible for overseeing the production of the enslaved girl she would come to own and disciplining her when it did not meet her requirements. so, serving as the metaphorical flies on the walls of southern households, formally enslaved people talked about some of the most violent, traumatic and
intimate dimensions of life for those who are bound and those who were free. they heard and saw things that typically remained obscured from view, details white slaveowning couples often left out of their personal correspondence for public medication. that is when they were able to write at all. many of the slaveowning women i discuss in this book contended with some form of illiteracy. they were either unable to write and read or possess the ability to do one but not the other. enslaved and formally enslaved people's recollections about their female owners thus serve as some of the only archival records about these women to survive. this book takes its cue from formally enslaved people. no group spoke about white women's investments in slavery more often or more powerfully than the enslaved people subjected to their ownership and control. they were the people whose lives were forever changed,
when amid trust -- when a mistress sold someone just so she could buy a new dress. they were best equipped to describe the agony that shook their bodies and souls when they returned from their errands to discuss -- to discover that their children were gone and there mistresses were counting piles of money they had received from the slave traders who bought them. only enslaved people could speak about their female owners profound canonic contributions to their continued enslavement such astonishing precision. so what did formally enslaved people have to say about white females'economic relationships to the institution of slavery? formally enslaved people interviews offer insight into the most intimate workings of white households as well. formally enslaved people like mary edwards who you see pictured, tell us some households, breast feeding constituted a form of labor slave owners required enslaved women to perform.
for warren taylor's mother for example nursing white children was one of her jobs. but for enslaved mothers like mary edwards, nursing white children was the only work they performed during slavery. these recollections make it clear that white mothers did not simply use enslaved mothers to breast-feed their children because of physiological elements that resulted in inadequate milk supply, and inability to produce milk at all, or as they last resort. but that compelled enslaved mothers to perform this labor as a matter of course in some households. moreover, in order for enslaved women to serve in this capacity consistently, they also had to give birth or at least lactate on a routine basis. but what often remains unexplored, is what led to these constant conceptions in the first place. while enslaved women perform the most arduous forms of labor in their owners fields and in their households, they also had to conceive, carry a pregnancy
to full term, give birth, and lactate, in order to be able to serve as wet nurses in the first place. and sources suggest this is precisely what happened. some of the enslaved women's children were undoubtedly conceived within relationships of love. but others were undoubtedly result of sexual assault. how widespread was this phenomenon? widespread enough that a niche market, a small corner, but nevertheless a significant corner of the slave market, emerge in order to fulfill white mother's demands for enslaved wet nurses. the market in enslaved nurses was primarily -- enslaved wet nurses was primarily a hiring one but these ads reveal some of the enslaved women and mothers were offered for sale. in their capacity to serve as wet nurses was a selling point. these are three examples of
newspaper advertisements i collected as part of the research for this book, which reflect that white mothers were creating a demand for enslaved mothers service and labor as wet nurses. they were not only putting these ads in southern newspapers, but what you do not see in these but in others, what becomes clear is that white women were also some of the individuals who are supplying these white mothers with the enslaved mothers and wet nurses that they wanted and that they were seeking. here, these three are examples of enslaved wet nurses, seeking enslaved wet nurses to purchase or hire. and what i found was an important intersection and connection between the market in enslaved wet nurses and the slave market proper. most of the men and individuals
offering enslaved women for sale were also slave traders who made their living buying and selling enslaved people. so, in addition to that, we attend closely to what enslaved and formally enslaved people had to say about white women's economic investments in slavery. it becomes clear they had so much to tell us about the institution of slavery and the roles that white women played in the slave market economy and in their continued captivity. we learned that when they said that they belonged to white women, they meant belonged to by law. sally knightingdale owned alice marshall and her mother. marsha claimed her mistresses husband jack had nothing to do with me and my mother because they belong to the misses by law and not her husband.
here you say a lost friends add, also information wanted ads. these are very unique in large because they emerge as the civil war is coming to an end and in the years following the civil war. adn what they reflect formally enslaved peoples attempt to reconstitute their families. all of those individuals who belonged to their families and communities that have been sold away that they wanted to reconnect with family members that had children and mothers and fathers and even brothers and uncles who they had lost contact with because of sale and separation. they placed these ads in order to reconnect with those individuals and reconstitute their families. these advertisements also show more than simply their attempts to reconnect with their families. they also show how the separations occurred in the first place and they highlight
the owners who are responsible not simply for their sale but their separation. here i am showing an advertisement placed by caroline mason seeking information about her family members. she says she was owned by betsey mason, a white woman, and was sold by her as well. she does not simply say she inadvertently was sold by some man who was related to betsey. she identifies betsey as her legal owner but also the person who was ultimately responsible for the separation that occurred after those sales took place. this is another advertisement that goes farther and shows more complex elements or dimensions of slavery.
william mays advertisement highlights several things about white slaveowning women and their families, also their business practices. he identifies his female owner, elise stokes, in this advertisement, and describes the conflicts within her family over her property and her property rights. he argues or tells us that jack sampson, his owner's grandson, stole his mother and siblings from elise. so i grandson and grandmother he is not willing to recognize the kind of in viability of elise stokes property rights in this particular case. he also tells us that while elise stokes held legal title to him while she was his owner, she would hire him out so he refers to this process of hiring out as living with
jemson at the time. in the top element he talks about jack simpson's decision to sell him away from his family, i mean to steal his family away from him. and he also talks about elisas business practices, meeting she would hire him out and receive his wages in return for the labor that he performed for jensen in this particular case. the sources get at more complex dimensions of slavery that often do not enter popular understanding of the institution and ways in which enslaved people were passed between people, how those separations occurred, etc.. here, what guy smith is telling us, is that he and his wife were separated from their children. and that his children were
drawn, refers to a process being drawn, by different members of his owners'family, some of whom were women. he also talks about the legal process by which the separations took place. he does not use all the terms we would think to look for. but he very plainly tells us, while the separations of family members did not take place in the slave market, they nonetheless. about same kinds of medic severance from loved ones. he tells us this process of being drawn and falling to someone, refers to the process that happens during the administration of a deceased person's estate in this particular context. so, his owner dies. then his property, they would have a drawing, like a lottery. they would put the names of the individual heirs into a bag or
a hat. and that individual air, -- heir, the name would also be written alongside a group of enslaved people. so they would draw their names out of a hat and that person be told what property they received. they would draw out a piece of paper that had a list of property they would receive. there were variety of ways this ritual took place. they literally did, in fact, draw enslaved people as part of this estate division process. that is what guy is referring to here. this is not simply something enslaved people talked about in terms that are not necessarily proper legalese. but these recollections are also reflected in documents that appear in archival collections throughout the south.
what you see here is a handwritten document that shows exactly what guy smith is referring to, an estate division in which it lists the individual enslaved people that are part of that deceased person's estate. it also shows the ages of those enslaved people. it shows the values, the estimated values of those enslaved people. toward the bottom, very bottom of this document it shows which heirs drew which enslaved people. what is really markable about this document in relationship to what guy shows in his lost friends ad, is that elizabeth henry, the very top line there,
elizabeth henry drew more enslaved people than richard henry did. why is this important? in the book i show that colonial historians who look at history in the clip -- history and the colonial. in the country show that slaveowning parents would typically give their daughter more slaves than any other form of property. they would give them other property. and they would give them money. and in some cases i have seen stocks and bonds given to daughters. but they would often give their daughters far more enslaved people than other forms of property, particularly land. and they would get their sons the land. so that when those two, when that couple got together, they would have everything they needed to get a start on that new life that they were going to be living. the same thing happen in the 19th century. you see similar patterns, where slaveholding parents would give their daughters more enslaved people than land. this is reflective of the fact that even if richard did not receive land, he actually, you
can see that kind of inheritance practice play out here in this document by showing that she, elizabeth, received more slaves than the other heir. that might suggest also he received land in addition to receiving those enslaved people. i think these sources are really important to showing the process by which i wrote the book because i centered and foregrounded the experiences and accounts and reflections of formerly enslaved people in order to lead me in more productive directions in additional relationship to the sources. by looking at fragments of information, data, for those scientists that might be in the
room or mathematically-inclined folks in the room. by using the data that formally enslaved people provided, i was able to piece together details of the lives of the female owners that they identify. so this is a really important or a really interesting example of that process for me. so james skinner was a reverend who lives in yazoo county, mississippi. on november 20, 1879, he placed this lost friends at in the southwestern christian advocate because he was looking for his brother, edward. the last time john had seen edward was on october 12, 1860, in georgetown. and in the district of columbia, right where we are today. not long after the brothers crossed paths that day, john and his family were forced to leave edward behind, when their owner did what historians and individuals at the time
referred to as being refugeed. his owner refugeed then to mississippi and compelled them to leave this trick and leave edward behind. one year after john placed his first lost friends advertisement, he still had not found edward. so he placed another. his time he offered more detail. each of these advertisements may clear. angelica chu, he spells her name differently but nevertheless identifies as a woman who owned him and his family and who orchestrated the separation via that process of refugeeing, and that she was the reason that he had this family were still searching for edward. it was difficult for me to find angelica because of the variations in spelling and the ways he refers to her in these advertisements. in the first yellow box on the left he refers to her as miss.
angelico chu, and the widow of phrisby, with a ph. so i said ok, jot that down. i went to the second advertisement and i said ok, he is saying something completely different the second time. so i thought, then he refers to her as misses angelo chu. sizable ok, i know that sometimes today and in then when woman is married she may be referred to by her husband's first and last name. so i said ok, ok is she the widow of angelica chu they lived in yazoo, mississippi. he was in georgetown. i went to ancestry.com. they have been in trouble lately but it is an extraordinary resource where you can find archival documents the national archives has available on-site here. i was able to find -- i said
wait, there he is. i found frisby chew, angelica's husband, here in the newspaper. of the two areas are interesting. they are macabre and depressing pieces of archival fragments, but they often give these rich descriptions of these people's lives, of the deceased. and you can see migrations, all kinds of things. that is what's apparent in frisby's obituary.
it tells us that frisby freeland chew was married to misses chu. and he was in yes a county, mississippi, which is where james skinner is at the time he places his lost friends advertisement so we have that one collaboration. then it talks about the children and that he was on his way to the government at washington. so it tells he had been appointed to a governmental position, which would again explain and corroborate what james skinner was talking about, placing him and edward and his family in washington, d.c.. also why they were in d.c. and how the connection between yazoo county, mississippi, and d.c. came from. it tells us why the chews were in washington, d.c.. and it tells us how he died. this is an interesting component. it corroborates what james is saying, this formally enslaved person is saying. it also gives details about angelica's life, her migrations, how she is moving around the country or parts of the country at this moment.
and then, i am about to have a search that's a super nerdy moment for you. i found angelica chew's father's well. for those into genealogy, this is archival gold. for me was really important again because it underscored not simply these kind of parental relationships between parents and daughters, and the ways their inheritance practices insured white women who received enslaved people would beat deeply and profoundly invested in the institution and it's perpetuation and continuing to invest economically in the institution by buying and selling enslaved people after they received inheritance such as this. but it also shows how they were able to maintain control over and exercise control over the
enslaved people they inherited. so how does it do that? so in this yellow box what it says i will read it to you. it's not immediately apparent what it says. so what i would imagine this would sound like in these moments. having made gifts by way of advancement to my dear daughter, angelica chew, and desiring to make my dear daughter emma's share of my to my estate proportionate with her sisters share, i give and bequeath to my dear wife anne-marie misko, in trust for the sole and separate use of our said daughter emme, the following servants. then he describes the servants that emma will receive. so why is this important? and why did i get excited about? this it tells us that angelica
during her life, before her father died, he gave her a portion of his estate. that is important for me. and important for us to understand in large part because sometimes when we think about slavery sometimes we think about inheritances, we often think that happens just when a person dies. and that when they leave a particular air their property in there will. this shows and it is the argument that i'm making in the book that slaveowners did not just leave their daughters enslaved people or property in their well. they gave them enslaved people over the course of their lives, even in their infancy. as birthday gifts, as christmas presents, and especially as wedding gifts. it would often give a group of enslaved people upon notification that they were
going to get married. so they would typically have a ritual at the recital, the reception. during the reception, they would line up the enslaved people and there would be an announcement made at the wedding reception. that essentially granted that the wife and daughter, the newlywed daughter, her wedding present, which would involve a group, would entail a group of enslaved people. so what george washington disco is saying here is that he already gave angelica her share. and that likely means she received those enslaved people at the time of her wedding, or some time over the course of after she got married. ok, so that is one thing that is really important that it shows. what's it also reflects come as historians and genealogy this, that we can look elsewhere, to make these connections. that wills are important. but they are not the end-all
and be-all to understanding property bequests and property transfers between white southerners or any folks that had the ability to own property and to transfer that property to something else. it also shows an important legal clause that many slaveholding parents not only built into their wills, as we see here, but in trust estates. so these would be like trust funds established for wealthy folks these days. so we are familiar with trust funds. what slave owning parents would often do is, if they gave their daughters property before they married, or before they died in their wills like we see here, they would do so by crating a trust. and they would put that property in the trust, appoint a trustee. sometimes it would be the husband or the father or a male family member. sometimes it would be a woman as you see here.
george appoint his wife as emma's trustee. he creates a separate trust estate, a separate trust fund for emma. and he puts and in charge of that estate, that property, until she comes of age. he states here the underlined clause. he puts in that really important clause, in trust for the sole and separate use of our said daughter emma. this has such power in the legal, in a legal context. what it is making clear, is that george washington does -- did not want emma's future husband to have any control over the property that he was giving to emme. and so, by saying in trust for the sole and separate use of emma, he is essentially telling her husband, ha ha, you thought you were going to get your
hands on this property but no. so slaveowning parents and their daughters are working together before they get to the point in which women might be fearful that their husbands might dispose of their property in ways that they do not agree with. you also might wonder why that is necessary and some of you may know that when a woman is, single or widowed woman got married or remarried and this time, in this period there was a legal doctrine referred to as coverture. this essentially says that upon marriage, any of the property that those women brought into marriage, any property they might acquire after marriage, either by inheritance or by purchase, would automatically become her husband's. after marriage she was not able to enter into contracts in her own name or to create a business in her own name or to go into court and sue on her own behalf.
so what this particular clause does is that it circumvents some of those constraints. it circumvents the property and wealth constraint. so it essentially allows for emma to maintain control of any property she brings into the marriage in order to continue to own property after the marriage, she would've had to have this will entered into the court and authorized or recognized by the courts and authenticated by the court. this is something he certainly did because we have the record here. if we did not it probably would be in a private paper and we would not know it existed. so this is an important way not only that sleigh voting parents would ensured their daughters would not be at the well of husbands that may not have their best interest in mind. but also how they were able to continue to secure ownership over enslaved people and maintain control over them, even when the law on the books looks like they should not have
that ability, and have that power and control. so this is one of those documents that got me really excited. i was also able to find this extraordinary document. so at the beginning of my comments, during the introduction, you are told about the washington, d.c., emancipation act. on april 16, 1862, d.c. did in fact past the emancipation act which provided compensation for any slaveholders willing to accept the abolition-the emancipation of enslaved people in the district. if they were willing to do that and then submit an application for compensation, listing the enslaved people they were claiming as their own, they
could receive a sum of money from the federal government to pay them for the enslaved peoples they owned and were willing to allow to be free and emancipated. this is angelica chu's application for compensation after emancipation. it shows exactly those details that cooperate some of the saint -- corroborate some of the same details james skinner provided in his lost friend add. -- advertisement. in the yellow box on the left, it shows the names of and this go, who is angelic is mother and angelica's name as well. as well it goes back to the will and james skinner's information that he looks in those advertisements. and it lists some of james skinner and some of his siblings as well in the yellow
box. at that time there surname was gray. he states that in his lost friends add four times. these are some of the ways i operated as i wrote this book. using these interesting and seemingly disconnected fragments of information that were provided in those ads. i was able to dig a little deeper and find all of these other archival documents that were out there. elsewhere. legal documents, obituaries, newspapers they were advertised and, as well as civil war era financial documents. what i think is interesting is it was not just people we are talking about. there was a host of other individuals who were slave
owners. economic investments in the has to do shun of slave ownership. so at the very top the federal government did in fact document white woman's slave ownership in the census. so what's really interesting about the census, you have an example of through the era is that in 1840 the census looks very different than before. the census looks very very much like the patriarchal household that we envision in the 19th century. it documented and identified by name the male head of
household. the female head of household might be a widow. they would identify that i'd individual by name all the other inhabitants in that household, they would simply be checked off. under these categories. women, white women, various ages. age zero to 12. they had to check all of these little boxes. and enumerate individuals but it would not mean that they would not identify individuals by name. you could not tell who own property and that household. whether women owned in slave people in that household it just kind of bunched all of the other residents in the household together. but in 1850 and 1860, well 1815, people thought it was important. they said, we have all of these other enslaved people in the country. it might be important to know who they are. unfortunately they did not name in slave people in the 1850 census in the 1860 census.
but they did start to name people by household. no matter whether they were male or female, so we can gather that information. but they started to enumerate slaveholding throughout the nation. so what you see here is a page out of the tennessee census reflecting the slave holding of mrs. sarah and rose. it identifies the person who owns the slave for the very first time. you are seeing this at the federal level. and then it enumerates the total number of enslaved people that she is claiming as her own. you can see she had a sizeable slave holding. this number is pretty typical for the typical slave owner wasn't the person who owned 1000 slaves, there were slaves who own thousands of slaves,
particularly in louisiana. but the typical slave owner owned ten slave slaves are less. women usually on five or less so the people i talk about these book are part of the majority of slave older's which admittedly were a small number of southerners. i'm not arguing in any way in this book that slaveowners were all southerners. there were a small percentage of all southerners, but women, when they were a majority of slaveowners meaning they owned typically ten slaves or less. this makes it possible for people to be able to say, not that there were slave owning women but that they could tell us just how many there might have been.
to provide concrete numbers for those who are hungry for numbers. some historians are really hungry for numbers. and so by looking at's census data, i've been looking at senses donald for several years now, i've been collecting it and looking at slave holding women in the census data i have been able to show that in some regions women might have compromise 60% of slaveholders. 40%. prior estimates placed them a 10%. looking at rich sources, this is like the census information i'm able to start to piece together the details that are really important for us to know as a nation. in particular, how these women are not just in the invested in
the institution of slavery. but also the racially divider north of the characterized our nation and continue to shake each other's encounters with each other's to this day. and at the state level that was at the federal level but at the state level, when i thought was very interesting on the one hand, i talked about the legal action. i talked about how the law of coverage or set win in should not have the ability to own property. exercise all these legal and different economic activities. but at the same time, you have state laws like this one from missouri that identify women and recognize white women as slaveowners. right in the laws. this law is essentially reflective of what they called black codes.
these are laws that pertain to the indirect actions of enslaved people. and also free black people who would constitute the minority in this period. but what you're seeing is that there are constant references to not belonging to him or her. to be her own. the laws on the books in of our states in this moment are not simply saying this woman may i exercise a certain kind of power in her husband instead or if there are no man around. the law is saying, she is equally empowered, equally emboldened by the law to engage and interact with enslaved people in this way. to behave in these particular ways. but it recognizes that the law holds the slaveowning women accountable for people's misdeeds. that is huge.
but the laws at the state level are recognizing the importance that women's ownership, but also the importance to maintain a system of surveillance that keeps enslaved people in their place. what is interesting is that the city level, cities like new orleans, they need labor. laborers. they would often contract with slaveowning women have them. to work on public works. so here, what you see is a receipt that was issued by the city of new orleans to misaligns a federal four roses work on the public works. she received a dollar and 50 cents which is a pretty significant amount. at that time for roses labor.
but what it shows is the way in which municipal officials recognize women as slaveowners. this is characterized by a vibrant, small mercantile culture. there are all these peddlers. we'll refer to his vendors are peddlers and they immersed you in all kinds of products and things in the city. women and white women were part of that mercantile culture. the city is really interesting in finding out who all of these merchants are. they are issuing licenses to all these merchants and they
need to know who needs a license. they create a census of specifically of the merchants in the city. this is a page out of this is a page out of that census. first when you see is madam harriet who is operating and oyster restaurant. not far from her, there are two slave traders. see if hatch or who is quite notorious for his engagement in the slave trade. as well as why's on the bottom so what it shows is that there is the idea that the slave market as a vice. port and a little dark corner of the city and he only went there kind of like a red light district. people think of the slave market as operating in red light districts but that wasn't the case at all wet this reflects that this kind of commerce, the slave trade, purchase of people, was essential to the commercial
district in new orleans. women were a part of those districts so there is no way that women could avoid slave markets. even if they never bought a slave, they could not avoid encountering a slave market and even in some cases, benefiting from offering their goods and services to those invested in the slave trade. this was a newspaper advertisement from a local jailer. when an enslaved person ran away and was captured, people would take those captured people to the local jailer and the local jailer would then interrogate that slave. they would awesome other names, were where they came from and who owned them.
they would take that information and posted in a newspaper. they would say this person belongs to you. if you are the rightful owner of this person, come down to the jail, bring proof of ownership and you can take them away. in this advertisement, there was an enslaved man who ran away and a local jailer i asked him who he belong to and he identified a female owner. a female owner in his advisor advertisement. these are all the ways that at the municipal level and federal level, you see people identify as invested in the institution of slavery. what you see here is a slave traders account book. when the most meticulous slave traders purchased enslaved
people, they would identify the person sometimes by name. most often out by name. sometimes by age. they would say how much they paid for that person. and who they sold that person too. and for what amount. i this page reflects the fact that he sold enslaved people to the same woman. this is our am our johnson from john white. four times he sold two or. it reflects the profit margin for the enslaved people. when those sales were finalized, places like south carolina had pre-printed bills of sale. this sounds like a very small amount. these are like receipts that when we buy something today. in this particular case elizabeth morrison's old and enslaved woman to an interest
south carolina slave trader named oaks for 410 dollars. again, it sounds like a very small amount but there is a website that you can use, if you're interested called measuring worth. you can actually put and of money that that individual was bought or sold four and it can calculate how much purchasing power that amount of money would have today. so usury measuring worth of, i was able to calculate that 410 dollars would've been a woman of 13,000 dollars and change. that's a small enough back then it seems our today it seems but not back then. it's an extraordinarily large amount of money. this receipt reflects the that fact that women not only owned enslaved people and engaged in the selling and purchasing of enslaved people. and they also connected
interacted with sleigh traders. looking at these documents, reflects if they in fact it so on a regular basis. what is interesting about this, he was a man. there is part of a highway in new orleans named after this guy. which is really interesting to see, that in a city like new orleans, slavery is everywhere but nowhere at the same time. so h. barnacle is trying to hunt lucy down. lucy ran away from him. he's trying to find lucy what's really interesting is that he identifies three of her previous owners. he says captain kelly owned her at one time, then miss is too good owned her and then mrs. clark owned her and by doing so he creates this chain of ownership that allows us to see not only the violence of the market, the way in which
enslaved people were passed from person to person. but also the important role that white women played in that chain as well. the rules the location on that change. but also that they were complicit and involved in creating this separation. through the process of sale as well. you probably can't see this very clearly from where you are but during the civil war, at the confederacy needed fortifications. to protect themselves. they would often impress enslaved people from local slaveowners to commandeer that work. to get that work done. they would not do it without paying them. they would keep track of the payments they issued to the slaveholder.
whose slaves have been protesting to making these fortifications. this is what we called a slave payroll. a document that is housed in the national archives here. there are thousands of these in the national archives. what it shows is that women were counted among the slave holders who's in slaved people were imprint pressed by the confederacy but also that there were some of those who are paid for their work that those in slave typically men did. have eliza sims was listed you had mary sims there. let's see if i can find the other one. and man's field there. even though they're initials are there, this is all of the crosby. i found that corroborated in
additional documents beyond the slave payroll. what's the shows again is that one of the things that is really interesting is how many are there. it is difficult to come new to have precise quantity. it comes to this. the fact that she is listed as he crosby makes it sometimes do difficult to know the complete number of enslaved people. i mean in slavery women. that makes it difficult to come to a concrete number. and knowing whether was women or not. it is just a hiccup along the way. nevertheless it shows that women even into the civil war, era are benefiting from the
labor of enslaved people. and then even into the civil war era you see that slaveowning women are hunting down enslaved people. even when you think the jig is up. april 9th leaser renders, they are still hunting down enslaved people. ultimately, these are the kinds of documents that i used to construct the narrative that i tell. it becomes after i have been working on this book for ten years, this is what i hope the book does. it takes a picture. you can find this image in hundreds of books. if not thousands. rarely is anyone interested in what i highlight here. there are many women and children who are at the auction.
this may be based on fact or not. even though it's a pictorial illustration. but nonetheless women were everywhere. they were hiding in plain sight. it just takes a little bit more closer perspective, a lands upon which to show their presence and their roles and their importance in the institution institution of slavery. thank you so much everybody for listening.