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May 22, 2016 Subject:
An interesting read.
The census records show that the majority of the Negro owners
of slaves were such from the point of view of philanthropy. In
many instances the husband purchased the wife or vice versa. The
slaves belonging to such families were few compared with the large
numbers found among the whites on the well developed plantations.
Slaves of Negroes were in some cases the children of a free father
who had purchased his wife. If he did not thereafter emancipate
the mother, as so many such husbands failed to do, his own children
were born his slaves and were thus reported by the enumerators.
Some of these husbands were not anxious to liberate their wives
immediately. They considered it advisable to put them on probation
for a few years, and if they did not find them satisfactory they
would sell their wives as other slave holders disposed of Negroes.
For example, a Negro shoemaker in Charleston, South Carolina,
42 JOURNAL OF NEGRO HISTORY
purchased his wife for $700; but, on finding her hard to please,
he sold her a few months thereafter for $750, gaining $50 by the
transaction. The writer personally knew a man in Cumberland
County, Virginia, whose mother was purchased by his father who
had first bought himself. Becoming enamored of a man slave, she
gave him her husband's manumission papers that they might escape
together to free soil. Upon detecting this plot, the officers of the
law got the impression that her husband had turned over the papers
to the slave and arrested the freedman for the supposed offense. He
had such difficulty in extricating himself from this complication
that his attorney's fees amounted to $500. To pay them he disposed
of his faithless wife for that amount.