Pre-Civil War Free Blacks Owned Slaves. Is that significant?

uaskme

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Africans were enslaved after the World ran out of Natives. Sure, Negro Slavery was Race Based as was all of it. Vast Majority White Owners and Colored Slaves. Many Others than Black. However with the Ownership of Negros by Negros and Native by Negros, one must recognize a Economic Element. Could that be an element of significance? Yes, I think so.
 

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Viper21

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Correct, but not taking the time to research leaves the narrative in someone else's hands and means losing the advantage of the narrative.
Herein lies the problem with much discussion here. Advantage of the narrative..? :O o: That implies narrative is more important than truth. I've seen it said many times here, History isn't history, unless it's the truth (or something to that effect).

Aren't we all seeking the truth, the whole truth, & nothing but the truth..? Apparently, that's a naïve line of thinking. I guess maintaining narrative takes precedence. At least, that's how this quoted statement reads to me.
 
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Africans were enslaved after the World ran out of Natives. Sure, Negro Slavery was Race Based as was all of it. Vast Majority White Owners and Colored Slaves. Many Others than Black. However with the Ownership of Negros by Negros and Native by Negros, one must recognize a Economic Element. Could that be an element of significance? Yes, I think so.
To be clear, not all slavery in the world was race based.
*****

United States slavery was a system of labor. Its economic nature is self-evident.

But slavery also had social, legal, and political aspects. Slaveholding among "blacks" has contexts within many structures, such as race, status, skin color (not the same thing as race), and class.

I have found previous discussions of this subject unsatisfactory because they tend focus almost exclusively on issues of economics, or perhaps greed. But these black people, including "black" slaveholders, lived in a social, political, legal, and cultural environment. It is rdiculously simplistic to say that they were merely money-earning automatons for which no other social dynamics are relevant to discuss or even note.

What did it mean to be "black" in 1860, for people who were deemed "black?" What did it mean to be a "black" slave holder? What did "black" slaveholders mean to white slaveholders? I think those things are important to discuss, if we want to answer the question, Pre-Civil War Free Blacks Owned Slaves... Is that significant? I seem to be alone in that view.
*****

Meanwhile, there has been some discussion of Judge Taney and his opinion. Actually I cited two sources, I could have used more. Just for purposes of not having to go back to previous posts. Taney said:

It is difficult at this day to realize the state of public opinion in relation to that unfortunate race which prevailed in the civilized and enlightened portions of the world at the time of the Declaration of Independence and when the Constitution of the United States was framed and adopted. But the public history of every European nation displays it in a manner too plain to be mistaken.

They had for more than a century before been regarded as beings of an inferior order, and altogether unfit to associate with the white race either in social or political relations, and so far inferior that they had no rights which the white man was bound to respect, and that the negro might justly and lawfully be reduced to slavery for his benefit.

{The negro} was bought and sold, and treated as an ordinary article of merchandise and traffic whenever a profit could be made by it. This opinion was at that time fixed and universal in the civilized portion of the white race. It was regarded as an axiom in morals as well as in politics which no one thought of disputing or supposed to be open to dispute, and men in every grade and position in society daily and habitually acted upon it in their private pursuits, as well as in matters of public concern, without doubting for a moment the correctness of this opinion.

This view was widely articulated. Notably, the Texas Secession Declaration states:

We hold as undeniable truths that the governments of the various States, and of the confederacy {by this they mean the United States} itself, were established exclusively by the white race, for themselves and their posterity; that the African race had no agency in their establishment; that they were rightfully held and regarded as an inferior and dependent race, and in that condition only could their existence in this country be rendered beneficial or tolerable.

That in this free government all white men are and of right ought to be entitled to equal civil and political rights; that the servitude of the African race, as existing in these States, is mutually beneficial to both bond and free, and is abundantly authorized and justified by the experience of mankind, and the revealed will of the Almighty Creator, as recognized by all Christian nations; while the destruction of the existing relations between the two races, as advocated by our sectional enemies, would bring inevitable calamities upon both and desolation upon the fifteen slave-holding States.

Of note is that neither Taney nor Texas mentions black slaveholders. For them, slavery was all about whites using blacks.

Why didn't they mention or allude to or discuss black slaveholders? The answer is obvious. Black slaveholders were irrelevant. They were insignificant.

- Alan
 
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CSA Today

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To be clear, not all slavery in the world was race based.
*****

Slavery was a system of labor. Its economic nature is self-evident.

But slavery also had social, legal, and political aspects. Slaveholding among "blacks" has contexts within many structures, such as race, status, skin color (not the same thing as race), and class.

I have found previous discussions of this subject unsatisfactory because they tend focus almost exclusively on issues of economics, or perhaps greed. But these black people, including "black" slaveholders, lived in a social, political, legal, and cultural environment. It is rdiculously simplistic to say that they were merely money-earning automatons for which no other social dynamics are relevant to discuss or even note.

What did it mean to be "black" in 1860, for people who were deemed "black?" What did it mean to be a "black" slave holder? What did "black" slaveholders mean to white slaveholders? I think those are things that are important to discuss, if we want to answer the question, Pre-Civil War Free Blacks Owned Slaves... Is that significant? I seem to be alone in that view.
*****

Meanwhile, there has been some discussion of Judge Taney and his opinion. Actually I cited two sources, I could have used more. Just for purposes of not having to go back to previous posts. Taney said:

It is difficult at this day to realize the state of public opinion in relation to that unfortunate race which prevailed in the civilized and enlightened portions of the world at the time of the Declaration of Independence and when the Constitution of the United States was framed and adopted. But the public history of every European nation displays it in a manner too plain to be mistaken.

They had for more than a century before been regarded as beings of an inferior order, and altogether unfit to associate with the white race either in social or political relations, and so far inferior that they had no rights which the white man was bound to respect, and that the negro might justly and lawfully be reduced to slavery for his benefit.

{The negro} was bought and sold, and treated as an ordinary article of merchandise and traffic whenever a profit could be made by it. This opinion was at that time fixed and universal in the civilized portion of the white race. It was regarded as an axiom in morals as well as in politics which no one thought of disputing or supposed to be open to dispute, and men in every grade and position in society daily and habitually acted upon it in their private pursuits, as well as in matters of public concern, without doubting for a moment the correctness of this opinion.

This view was widely articulated. Notably, the Texas Secession Declaration states:

We hold as undeniable truths that the governments of the various States, and of the confederacy {by this they mean the United States} itself, were established exclusively by the white race, for themselves and their posterity; that the African race had no agency in their establishment; that they were rightfully held and regarded as an inferior and dependent race, and in that condition only could their existence in this country be rendered beneficial or tolerable.

That in this free government all white men are and of right ought to be entitled to equal civil and political rights; that the servitude of the African race, as existing in these States, is mutually beneficial to both bond and free, and is abundantly authorized and justified by the experience of mankind, and the revealed will of the Almighty Creator, as recognized by all Christian nations; while the destruction of the existing relations between the two races, as advocated by our sectional enemies, would bring inevitable calamities upon both and desolation upon the fifteen slave-holding States.

Of note is that neither Taney nor Texas mentions black slaveholders. For them, slavery was all about whites using blacks.

Why didn't they mention or allude to or discuss black slaveholders? The answer is obvious. Black slaveholders were irrelevant. They were insignificant.

- Alan
Definitely not the case in Africa.
 

byron ed

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Taney's Dredd Scott decision is being much misrepresented here. The only actual thing decided was that Scott (just him the individual) could not bring a law suit for he and his wife's freedom in the first place because he was not legally a U.S. citizen. That's it. Just that. And there were no enforcement provisions beyond that which applied to the one man.

All of the other stuff in there was optionally added by Taney, as was his right to do. That's why it's called legal opinion. Taney's opinion was that "a black man had no rights that white men had to respect" but there was no further binding law in that. Another of Taney's opinions was that the decision as a precedent meant that no other black could attempt to bring suit anywhere in the U.S. or its territories, including the free states.

That was seen as a significant assault on states' rights, seemingly doubling down the attack on states' rights from a decade prior, the 1850 compromise with its Fugitive Slave Act. The decision as a precedent opened up the possibility that all the free states could be re-opened to slavery, since in theory, say, a Southern tobacco plantation owner could move his entire operation to Ohio with all his slaves, since no one could bring suit for their freedom in Ohio.

The decision was resisted. Free states quickly made pretentions that in their courts state law remained in force (black slaves could still sue for their freedom). So the stage was set for legal challenges, but then the war happened. Taney's decision and the Fugitive Slave Law were swept away in post-war deliberations.
 
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jgoodguy

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Taney's Dredd Scott decision is being much misrepresented here. The only actual thing decided was that Scott (just him the individual) could not bring a law suit for he and his wife's freedom in the first place because he was not legally a U.S. citizen. That's it. Just that. And there were no enforcement provisions beyond that which applied to the one man.

All of the other stuff in there was optionally added by Taney, as was his right to do. That's why it's called legal opinion. Taney's opinion was that "a black man had no rights that white men had to respect" but there was no further binding law in that. Another of Taney's opinions was that the decision as a precedent meant that no other black could attempt to bring suit anywhere in the U.S. or its territories, including the free states.

That was seen as a significant assault on states' rights, seemingly doubling down the attack on states' rights from a decade prior, the 1850 compromise with its Fugitive Slave Act. The decision as a precedent opened up the possibility that all the free states could be re-opened to slavery, since in theory, say, a Southern tobacco plantation owner could move his entire operation to Ohio with all his slaves, since no one could bring suit for their freedom in Ohio.

The decision was resisted. Free states quickly made pretentions that in their courts state law remained in force (black slaves could still sue for their freedom). So the stage was set for legal challenges, but then the war happened. Taney's decision and the Fugitive Slave Law were swept away in post-war deliberations.
One or two district courts ignored DSvS in their rulings which were appealed. While I agree with most of your analysis of DSvS IMHO we don't know that the ruling entailed other than Dred Scott had no legal standing in Taney's Court. There was no case using DSvS as precedent in a citizenship issue, the Lincoln administration ignored DsvS in determining citizenship and the 14th amendment mooted it. Had a Democrat been elected rather than Lincoln the outcome might have been different. DSvS helped getting Lincoln elected. It helped doom itself.
 

byron ed

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Africans were enslaved after the World ran out of Natives. Sure, Negro Slavery was Race Based as was all of it.
Not exactly. In world history slaves more typically were taken as war prize, regardless of color. That was true for native American tribes, for African tribes, and for classic Old World Western and Eastern societies. For milleniums prior to the invasion of the New World by Europeans, slavery was not primarily based on color.

Chattel slavery, based on color, achieved it's highest iteration in the Americas, actually evolving to the point that it became the very basis upon which a country would be founded; the Confederacy.
 
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jgoodguy

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Top 10 Black Slaveowners

Dilsey Pope was born a free woman, and when she was older, she bought the man she loved in order to marry him. Many state laws at the time would not allow slaves to be emancipated, so it was common for family or spouses to technically own their family. Dilsy owned her own house and land, and she also hired her husband out as labor.​
What makes this particular situation so unique is that when Dilsey and her husband had a fight, Dilsey sold him to her white neighbor out of spite. While many modern women might wish to get rid of their husbands, Dilsey truly takes the cake when it comes to method. Also like many other spouses, she later felt bad about the argument and tried to reconcile. The only problem was that when she went buy her husband back and apologize, her neighbor refused to sell him.[1]
Jacob Gasken was born free only because his mother was a free woman. His father was still a slave at the time of his birth. This was rather common at the time, and the mother eventually wanted to buy Jacob’s father so that he would no longer have to work as a slave on a plantation. When Jacob grew older, his mother helped him to buy his father. The family was happy with this arrangement, although the father was technically still their slave until he attempted to do what all parents do: reprimand his son. This is when this story becomes notable.​
One day, Jacob’s father scolded him after Jacob had misbehaved (as any good father would do). Jacob, a petulant, entitled boy, became so angry with his father that he sold him to a New Orleans trader and then later bragged to his friends and colleagues about sending his own father to be a slave on a plantation in Louisiana to “learn him some manners.”[2]
Nat Butler makes this list for the special type of manipulative cruelty that he showed toward his fellow humans. Butler was one of the worst kinds of slave owners. Not only did he participate in the trade, but he actively tricked slaves into running away so that he could sell them back to their masters.​
Butler would convince a slave to hide out on his property. Butler would then speak to the slave’s owner to find out what the reward was for returning him. If the reward was high, he would simply return the slave for the money. If the price was low, Butler would buy the slave then resell him to slave dealers down south for a profit.[3] He gained a bad reputation in his county for his scheming actions, and many attempted to hurt and even murder him for revenge.​

During the 1730s, the Pendarvis family was one of the most prominent in the South, owning the biggest rice plantations in the Palmetto region and over 123 slaves. They dominated Colleton County (now the Charleston area) and became one of the wealthiest slaveholding families in South Carolina.​
What is ironic is that this family of wealthy black slave owners was given their wealth accidentally when a will was created that gave the estate of Joseph Pendarvis to his illegitimate children with his slave, Parthena.[6]Despite the family’s own origins, all Pendarvis estates continued to use slave labor as they took over the Palmetto State.​

Marie was living in the Kingdom of Kongo when she met her future husband, who fell deeply in love with her. In a time where interracial marriage was considered wrong and immoral, Marie married a white Frenchman named Claude Metoyer and moved to Louisiana with him and their children. Because their marriage was not approved of by society, Marie technically remained a slave to her husband. Years later and after six children, Marie was finally freed, and she and her husband divorced. Claude left to France, where he married a French woman. Marie wasn’t left with nothing, however, and started a plantation that initially dealt in tobacco.​
Under Marie’s leadership, the Metoyer family prospered, and the plantation grew. Eventually, they owned more slaves than any other family in their county, with the number being reported at 287 by 1830. There isn’t much evidence of harsh treatment to their own slaves, but the Metoyers were notorious for buying extra slaves to do the hardest tasks on the plantation and then returning them after the work was finished. This prevented them from having their own slaves do the dirty work.[7]
Antoine Dubuclet was born a free man to free parents and inherited a large sugar plantation called Cedar Grove from his father. Under his father, the plantation was small and contained only a few slaves. Under Antoine’s leadership, it grew, and by 1860, he owned over 100 slaves and had one of the largest sugar plantations in Louisiana. He was extremely wealthy, even more so than any of his white neighbors. His plantation was worth $264,000, while the average income of his neighbors in the South was only around $3,978.​
After marrying a wealthy black woman, his lands expanded, and after her death, Dubuclet was considered the wealthiest black slave owner in Louisiana.[8] He was elected and served as state treasurer during the Reconstruction Era, one of the only black men to hold the office for more than one term.​
Nobody on this list has affected the history of slavery quite as much as Anthony Johnson. He is rumored to have been the first black man to arrive in Virginia as well as the first black indentured servant in America. He was also the first black man to gain his freedom and the first to own land. As a true pioneer of firsts, Johnson couldn’t stop there. Ironically, he became the first black slave owner, and it was his court case that solidified slavery in America.​
In 1635, Johnson was freed and given a 250-acre plantation where he was master over both black and white servants. In 1654, Johnson sued his neighbor in a case that would change America’s history forever. Johnson’s servant, John Casor, claimed he was an indentured servant who had worked several years past the terms of his indenture for Johnson and was now working for Johnson’s neighbor, Parker. Johnson sued Parker, stated that Casor was his servant “in perpetuity,” and the courts ruled in his favor. Casor had to return to Johnson, and the case established the principle in America that one person is able to own another person for the rest of their life.[10]
 
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A couple of thoughts. First, there were considerable variations in the proportion of black slaveowners from state to state. The proportion was, I think, highest by a considerable margin in Louisiana, for lots of reasons of culture and history. Second, there was a time (ca. 1900-1940) in which prominent black historians readily spoke about black slaveholding, calling attention thereby to agency rather than merely victimhood in the black experience. For Booker T. Washington, among others, the facts of black slave ownership were not controversial. E.g., he quotes with approval the report of Frederick Law Olmsted after a visit to antebellum St. Landry Parish, that they were "honest and industrious" and "owned some of the best cotton and sugar plantations" in the district. One of these black planters, who had "the best house and most tasteful grounds that he had visited in the State," owned 150 slaves (The Outlook, Sept. 18, 1909).
 

jgoodguy

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A couple of thoughts. First, there were considerable variations in the proportion of black slaveowners from state to state. The proportion was, I think, highest by a considerable margin in Louisiana, for lots of reasons of culture and history. Second, there was a time (ca. 1900-1940) in which prominent black historians readily spoke about black slaveholding, calling attention thereby to agency rather than merely victimhood in the black experience. For Booker T. Washington, among others, the facts of black slave ownership were not controversial. E.g., he quotes with approval the report of Frederick Law Olmsted after a visit to antebellum St. Landry Parish, that they were "honest and industrious" and "owned some of the best cotton and sugar plantations" in the district. One of these black planters, who had "the best house and most tasteful grounds that he had visited in the State," owned 150 slaves (The Outlook, Sept. 18, 1909).
Be nice to have references and page numbers for this claim "Second, there was a time (ca. 1900-1940) in which prominent black historians readily spoke about black slaveholding, calling attention thereby to agency rather than merely victimhood in the black experience."

It would be nice to know the page number in The Outlook, Sept. 18, 1909.


Thanks in advance
 

archieclement

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It is 8% of households being slaveholders nationally, not 1%.

http://www.civil-war.net/pages/1860_census.html

I do not know what percentage of those slaveholding households were white, but I don't think it would be controversial to suggest that the great majority of them likely were.

Whether or not 8% is a significant slice of the total population I suppose depends on your perspective, but it is certainly more significant than 1%. Even if the percentages aren't looked at on a state-by-state basis, the percentage of slaveholding households rises greatly if the free states are excluded. 24% of all households in states where slavery was legal, held slaves. Did 24% of free black households in slave states hold slaves?

If an argument were to made that white slaveholders were as insignificant as the number of free blacks holding slaves (What that poster meant by insignificant would probably need to be defined first. Also...what percentage separates insignificant from significant, and why?), I think some data would need to be introduced to the discussion demonstrating that free blacks were as likely to be slaveholders as whites in states where slavery was legal.

Even if that were the case (For now I'm skeptical, unless someone has evidence to produce demonstrating that to be the case) there would still be the issue of some of those free blacks owning relatives as a means of skirting around laws that would have made manumission difficult. There is no question that some free blacks owned slaves, and some of those were motivated by profit just like white slaveholders. Individually - at least if profit was the motive - they were no better than white slaveholders, but I think we have to be careful not to draw some sort of equivalency between between whites and black freedmen in slave states on the whole, which could suggest incorrectly that there was not a racial component to slavery in the United States.

I am not suggesting you were making that argument, but there are some out there who do. Recently there was an image that went viral on facebook claiming incorrectly that something like 1% of whites owned slaves, and adding that there was also 20,000 black slaveowners. Clearly the intent of whoever created that was to minimize both the importance of slavery in the mid 19th Century and the racial component to the practice, and the means used was misinformation. Unfortunately many fall for it and share, without verifying for themselves the claims being made.

Nearly half of all households in South Carolina and Mississippi, around one third of all households in Alabama, Florida, and Georgia, and one quarter of all households in Virginia, Louisiana, North Carolina, Texas, Tennessee, a and Kentucky were slaveholding. That had enormous political and economic significance and was directly responsible for the Civil War.
again not sure why some can't follow the original OP.........he stated 1% of blacks owned slaves then gave the population numbers arrived to reach 1%. He is stating owners not households......I used the exact same methodology to arrive at 1 % also.

Switching to households isn't the methodology originally used at all. If you have a issue with using owners instead of households you should be directing it to the thread creator, as he was the one who decided to use owners and not households. However once a method is used, any real comparison should use the same method

It's not hard to see, it was the very first post in the thread............
 

jgoodguy

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again not sure why some can't follow the original OP.........he stated 1% of blacks owned slaves then gave the population numbers arrived to reach 1%. He is stating owners not households......I used the exact same methodology to arrive at 1 % also.

Switching to households isn't the methodology originally used at all. If you have a issue with using owners instead of households you should be directing it to the thread creator, as he was the one who decided to use owners and not households. However once a method is used, any real comparison should use the same method

It's not hard to see, it was the very first post in the thread............
Good point although, most of the statistics gathered for 1830 assume the head of household was the owner and the 1830 census is the one in the OP.
 
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Be nice to have references and page numbers for this claim "Second, there was a time (ca. 1900-1940) in which prominent black historians readily spoke about black slaveholding, calling attention thereby to agency rather than merely victimhood in the black experience."

It would be nice to know the page number in The Outlook, Sept. 18, 1909.


Thanks in advance
Pp. in Outlook: 107-114.
 



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