Did Longstreet own slaves?

privateflemming

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This article says he didn't according to the Longstreet Society: https://www.gainesvilletimes.com/news/old-joes-history-complicated-current-debate/

"Longstreet went so far as to organize an African-American militia in 1874. For that, and for his conversion to the Republican Party, many of the Confederate Army’s losses were pinned on Longstreet.

...

Richard Pilcher, head of the Longstreet Society, told The Times the group has never found evidence that Longstreet owned slaves, and that the group is satisfied that he never did. In his own writings, Longstreet references slave owners as separate from himself.

One of Longstreet’s most well-known statements is inscribed on a stone at the foot of the Piedmont Hotel at 827 Maple St., which was owned and operated by Longstreet and his family. “Why do men fight who were born to be brothers?” the stone reads.

Pilcher said it was his and his wife’s support for civil rights that brought them together and led to their marriage."

However, this website says that Lonstreet "owned a small number of slaves": https://www.americanhistorycentral.com/entries/james-longstreet/view/quick-facts/
 

WJC

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My understanding is that his family owned several slaves (his father was a planter). Longstreet and his wife may have had a couple of slaves, although I haven't seen any real evidence. His father encouraged him from childhood to pursue a military career.
Remember, pursuing a West Point education and a military career rather than becoming a planter removed many of the elements that might otherwise have led to slave ownership.
 
My understanding is that his family owned several slaves (his father was a planter). Longstreet and his wife may have had a couple of slaves, although I haven't seen any real evidence. His father encouraged him from childhood to pursue a military career.
Remember, pursuing a West Point education and a military career rather than becoming a planter removed many of the elements that might otherwise have led to slave ownership.

Also, Longstreet entered the Richmond County Academy beginning in 1830, when he was nine years old, followed by five years at the Westover Academy and enrolling at West Point in 1838. Not much time for any slave owning.
 

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However, this website says that Lonstreet "owned a small number of slaves": https://www.americanhistorycentral.com/entries/james-longstreet/view/quick-facts/
This is a poor source: a series of 'one-liners' without source or explanation. "James Longstreet owned a small number of slaves." I would not use it as evidence, even though it parrots the Encyclopedia Virginia entry.
I would not be surprised to find that he did own slaves, particularly one or more domestic servants. Remember, he and his wife Maria Louisa had ten children, five of whom lived to adulthood.
 

lelliott19

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I can find no evidence that Lieut General James Longstreet ever owned any slaves.

James was I believe the 3rd son? Anyway, in 1820, a year before future General James Longstreet was born in South Carolina, the father, also named James Longstreet, owned slaves. If my counting and addition are correct, he owned 24 slaves at the time of the 1820 US Census. Nine of the 24 enslaved were under age 14. Not exactly what I would call a "small number." But then, probably not what would be considered a huge plantation either, unless he employed additional field hands and/or rented additional enslaved workers from his neighbors. I have not been able to locate any later census records for the family.
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privateflemming

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Well I just did a search on Ancestry.com and I found a record for two female slaves ages 13 and 35 owned by a James Longstreet in the 1850 federal census in San Antonio, Bexar, Texas. Apparently Longstreet was stationed in Texas during this time so it seems like it probably is him. Here is a link and images for those who don't have Ancestry: https://www.ancestry.com/search/col...reet&f-80000003_x=1&residence=_georgia-usa_13

I couldn't find anything on the 1840 or 1860 census.

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thomas aagaard

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For an officer from the south who is married and stationed in the south, I think it would be normal to own a slave or two to do the cooking and similar.

My parents in law live in Uganda, where they run a NGO. They have an Ugandan woman to do the cooking, cleaning and washing.
Their pay is based on European standards so paying for a local to do this kind of work is a small expense.
So with white people who work there for international companies or NGOs having a local woman is normal.

It is obviously not the same as owning a slave, but just like hiring a local girl is the norm with this group, I think buying a slave for it could be the norm with officers stationed in Texas. If they could afford it..
Because buying a slave was likely a better economic solution than hiring a white woman to do it.

It could be interesting if it was possible to find statistics on how many offices in stationed in Texas owned 1-2 slaves.
 
Well I just did a search on Ancestry.com and I found a record for two female slaves ages 13 and 35 owned by a James Longstreet in the 1850 federal census in San Antonio, Bexar, Texas. Apparently Longstreet was stationed in Texas during this time so it seems like it probably is him. Here is a link and images for those who don't have Ancestry: https://www.ancestry.com/search/col...reet&f-80000003_x=1&residence=_georgia-usa_13

I couldn't find anything on the 1840 or 1860 census.

View attachment 318616

View attachment 318617

I wonder if he actually owned them or did he lease them?
 

lelliott19

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I wonder if he actually owned them or did he lease them?
If that is actually the future General James Longstreet enumerated there, then my guess would be that he inherited or was gifted the 35 year old woman. He would have been 29 years old in 1850 at the time of this census. She was pretty close to his same age (5 or 6 years older; b. 1815) and its possible that she is one of the two female slaves under age 14 in the 1820 census I posted above? It was pretty common for enslaved to be passed to the children through the parents' will or even be gifted to them prior to the death of the parents. It's possible that the 13 yo is the daughter of the 35 yo. The younger girl would have been born in 1837. At that time the older girl would have been 22 yo.
 
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jackt62

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I'm wondering about slave ownership among regular US Army officers, who sided with the Confederacy. Given that these officers spent their careers, from West Point onwards, in constantly rotating assignments and locations, often on the Western frontier, owning slaves would have been logistically difficult. Of course, they may have been related to family members who were slaveowners.
 

ErnieMac

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In the 1860 Census Maj. James Longstreet shows up in Albuquerque, New Mexico Territory, along with wife, Louisa, and two of his three sons, Augustus B. and James, Jr. There is also an Irish born male servant named Coleman Malone. The eldest son, John Garland Longstreet, does not appear. Cullum's Register indicates Longstreet served as Paymaster in Albuquerque from 1859 to 1861 when he took a leave of absence prior to joining the Confederacy. No proof, but it seems likely Longstreet no longer held slaves at that time.
 

WJC

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It was pretty common for enslaved to be passed to the children through the parents' will or even be gifted to them prior to the death of the parents.
Most certainly. However, remember that Longstreet's father died when he was twelve and his mother moved the family to northern Alabama, where he lived until age 16. It would be helpful to know more about those four years: did his mother sell the Georgia plantation and slaves before moving? Did she take some slaves with her? Were any of the slaves left to James or his siblings at his father's death?
Lots of unanswered questions....
 
Do you think rented slaves would be listed as the property of someone just renting them, and not the actual owner?

Unsure what was used to establish slave ownership for the 1850 Census. I know that in earlier censuses one of the problems with establishing slave owners in a given town or county was the fact that many persons who had rented slaves were counted as a slave owner or in the case of absentee slave owners that lived elsewhere, the head of the household on a farm or plantation, or the overseer of a plantation would be listed and counted as the slave owner. It was not common but not unheard of in the 1830 or 1840 Census to list a Black or Mulatto slave who had an absentee owner, and was left to run the household or small farm with the owner's other slaves, to be counted as the actual slave owner of the property. I'm unsure if the 1850 Census was still that careless or not.
 
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