Black Slaveowners

Free Black Slave Masters in South Carolina, 1790–1860


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About the Book

Drawing on the federal census, wills, mortgage bills of sale, tax returns, and newspaper advertisements, this authoritative study describes the nature of African-American slaveholding, its complexity, and its rationales. It reveals how some African-American slave masters had earned their freedom and how some free Blacks purchased slaves for their own use. The book provides a fresh perspective on slavery in the antebellum South and underscores the importance of African Americans in the history of American slavery.

The book also paints a picture of the complex social dynamics between free and enslaved Blacks, and between Black and white slaveowners. It illuminates the motivations behind African-American slaveholding—including attempts to create or maintain independence, to accumulate wealth, and to protect family members—and sheds light on the harsh realities of slavery for both Black masters and Black slaves.

  • BLACK SLAVEOWNERS—Shows how some African Americans became slave masters
  • MOTIVATIONS FOR SLAVEHOLDING—Highlights the motivations behind African-American slaveholding
  • SOCIAL DYNAMICS—Sheds light on the complex social dynamics between free and enslaved Blacks
  • ANEBELLUM SOUTH—Provides a perspective on slavery in the antebellum South

About the Author(s)

Historian Larry Koger lives in Largo, Maryland.

Bibliographic Details

Larry Koger

Format: softcover (6 x 9)
Pages: 300
Bibliographic Info: references, appendices, notes, index
Copyright Date: 2012 [1985]
pISBN: 978-0-7864-6931-4
eISBN: 978-0-7864-5128-9
Imprint: McFarland

Table of Contents

Acknowledgments      vii
List of Tables      xi
Foreword      Xlll
Introduction      1

1. Free Black Slaveholding and the Federal Census      5
2. The Numbers and Distribution of Black Slaveholding      18
3. From Slavery to Freedom to Slaveownership      31
4. “Buying My Chidrum from Ole Massa”      45
5. Neither a Slave Nor a Free Person      69
6. The Woodson Thesis: Fact or Fiction?      80
7. White Rice, White Cotton, Brown Planters, Black Slaves      102
8. Free Black Artisans: A Need for Labor      140
9. The Denmark Vesey Conspiracy: Brown Masters vs. Black Slaves      160
10. No More Black Massa      187

Appendix A. Tables for Chapter One      201
Appendix B. Table for Chapter Two      209
Appendix C. Tables for Chapter Six      231
Notes      235
Index      275

Book Reviews & Awards

  • “artfully demonstrates the full extent”—Choice
  • “a valuable reference work…powerful history…well done”—Charleston News & Courier
  • “thought-provoking study”—The Journal of Southern History
  • “interesting and valuable…worthwhile”—Daily News (Bowling Green, Kentucky)
  • “intensive examination…provocative…fascinating and remarkable information”—Georgia Historical Quarterly
  • “a useful study that should stimulate further research on the status and history of free black slaveholders”—The North Carolina Historical Review