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Black Slaveowners: Free Black Slave Masters in South Carolina, 1790-1860 Paperback – March 1, 1995
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Basically, the book shows slavery in its complexity that is often missing from books in films that are either by the political left OR right wing. We learn of William Ellison, a free black who eventually owned 63 slaves in Sumter County in 1860, whose sons actually tried to join the Confederatre Army! (they were rejected, for VERY obvious reasons)!
There is also the tale of the traitor Peter Desverneys, infamous to us black history fans as the "man" who "spilled the beans" on the Denmark Vesey slave rebellion. We learn that Peter was not only freed for life after this, but bought and sold slaves of his own afterwards!
I could go on and on, but read the book and see for yourself. As A Black South Carolinian, I grew up hearing a number of African-Americans claim that some of their ancestors were actually slave owners (why they would brag about this could form another book about indentification with one's oppressors, but that's another story). In either case, it's a story you are not likely to hear about on a widespread basis, but it is important in understanding the length of the tragedy and delusion caused by the transatlantic slave trade.
However, I would be remiss if I did not point out that this book is not an enjoyable read. Far from it. The style is rigid and the presentation of evidence is redundant. He occasionally tries to break out by attempting flashes of poetic eloquence, but they are so terrible that it's actually a relief when he slips back into dry pedantry. It's tedious, ponderous, and dull, but it is also one of the only books that examines this crucial subject of American History that has been obscured by time and politics. And for that it is worth your time.
I originally became interested in this topic during college, where as a history major one of my professors discussed the existence of free black slave owners in our area. Since I was pursuing a degree in history, I obviously had an interest in history and was really taken back because I had never heard of this topic and could not fathom how it could be true. I did some independent research and discovered that there was documentation of its existence in southeast Texas. I always intended to undertake more reading on the subject but didn't. Then, I read The Known World by Edward P Jones and my interest was piqued again.
According to Koger's work there were more than 10,000 slaves owned by free blacks in Louisian, Maryland, South Carolina, and Virginia. In this work Koger examines and documents the existence of free black (usually mulattos) who owned slaves in South Carolina during the 1800's and lays out the motivations for doing so. Often free blacks would purchase family members in order to grant manumission. However, when South Carolina passed a law that both houses had to approve an application for manumission (which was seldom done) family members would remain "slaves" but with a reunited family. However, this was not the only setting under which black slaveowners occured. There were cases where the purchase of slaves was done for the same "economic" reason that whites purchased slaves. I stated earlier that I couldn't fathom how this could occur. My thinking was, "how could blacks knowing the cruely that existed under this system participate in this sort of oppression.Read more ›
Most Recent Customer Reviews
A must book to read to learn a better perspective of past history inside America.Published 28 days ago by Christopher B
good Information about something a lot of people don't want to talk about.Published 3 months ago by Roland E Burgess
Very enlightening. The author’s thesis is logical and well laid out. Most importantly, it is extremely well documented. Read morePublished 7 months ago by Amazon Customer
A book everyone should read. Whites weren't the only slave masters in America.Published 15 months ago by Jon Nelson
Here's a slice of American history no one wants to talk about. But they need to. We are so overly obsessed with race, and not nearly as inquisitive when it comes to the truth, the... Read morePublished 19 months ago by Laura Crockett
This information has been around for centuries now. I'm wondering why this wasn't taught in Social Studies or U.S. History classes?Published 20 months ago by Philip J. Gates