The Color Factor: The Economics of African-American Well-Being in the Nineteenth-Century South

Posted in Books, Economics, History, Media Archive, Monographs, Slavery, United States on 2015-05-11 12:56Z by Steven

The Color Factor: The Economics of African-American Well-Being in the Nineteenth-Century South

Oxford University Press
June 2015
336 Pages
6-1/8 x 9-1/4 inches
Hardcover ISBN: 9780199383092

Howard Bodenhorn, Professor of Economics
Clemson University, Clemson, South Carolina
also Research Associate at the National Bureau of Economic Research

  • The first full-length study of how color intersected with polity, society and economy in the nineteenth-century South
  • Pulls together and expands on previous research on the connection between color and wealth and health
  • Compiles empirical economic research on how color affected plantation life, including which slaves ran away and were chased, or how color influenced entrepreneurship or education and the accumulation of human capital

Despite the many advances that the United States has made in racial equality over the past half century, numerous events within the past several years have proven prejudice to be alive and well in modern-day America. In one such example, Governor Nikki Haley of South Carolina dismissed one of her principal advisors in 2013 when his membership in the ultra-conservative Council of Conservative Citizens (CCC) came to light. According to the Southern Poverty Law Center, in 2001 the CCC website included a message that read “God is the one who divided mankind into different races…. Mixing the races is rebelliousness against God.” This episode reveals America’s continuing struggle with race, racial integration, and race mixing-a problem that has plagued the United States since its earliest days as a nation.

The Color Factor: The Economics of African-American Well-Being in the Nineteenth-Century South demonstrates that the emergent twenty-first-century recognition of race mixing and the relative advantages of light-skinned, mixed-race people represent a re-emergence of one salient feature of race in America that dates to its founding. Economist Howard Bodenhorn presents the first full-length study of the ways in which skin color intersected with policy, society, and economy in the nineteenth-century South. With empirical and statistical rigor, the investigation confirms that individuals of mixed race experienced advantages over African Americans in multiple dimensions – in occupations, family formation and family size, wealth, health, and access to freedom, among other criteria.

The Color Factor concludes that we will not really understand race until we understand how American attitudes toward race were shaped by race mixing. The text is an ideal resource for students, social scientists, and historians, and anyone hoping to gain a deeper understanding of the historical roots of modern race dynamics in America.

Table of Contents

  • Introduction
  • Chapter 1: Legal constructions of race and interpretations of color
  • Chapter 2: Race mixing and color in literature and science
  • Chapter 3: The plantation
  • Chapter 4: Finding freedom
  • Chapter 5: Marriage and the family
  • Chapter 6: Work
  • Chapter 7: Wealth
  • Chapter 8: Height, health and mortality
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The Forgotten Supervillain of Antebellum Tennessee

Posted in Articles, Biography, History, Media Archive, Slavery, United States on 2015-05-01 11:31Z by Steven

The Forgotten Supervillain of Antebellum Tennessee

Narratively: Human Stories, Boldy Told.
2015-04-28

Betsy Phillips


(Photo Source: commons.wikimedia.org/wiki/File:Isaac-franklin-by-wb-cooper.jpg)

In a brutal business defined by cruelty, Isaac Franklin was perhaps the worst slave trader in all of cotton country—and the richest man in the south. Yet today his heinous crimes are long forgotten.

The people of Nashville hear slave trader Isaac Franklin’s great annual parade of misery long before they see it. The rhythmic thud of 400 trudging feet carries quite a way. Then comes the sound of men singing, “Cut him down, cut him down, catch him if you can.”

There’s a river and a field and a few scattered houses between Nashville and Franklin’s coffle coming down Gallatin Pike, but once it crests the hill at what will one day be known as Eastland Avenue, everyone up on the bluff can see it. A great centipede of 200 men chained together at the waist, their hands locked behind their backs, marching toward Nashville. A hundred women and children follow behind in wagons, destined for sale. A man with a fiddle walks alongside the chained men, playing to keep them moving at the same speed.

The time is late August 1833. Nashville is a village of 5,500 people living near the crumbling remains of Fort Nashborough. Log cabins are finally giving way to wood-framed buildings and, for the rich, brick. For the past seven years, it has been the state capitol, but it still has the feel of a frontier village. Most people are related or married into each other’s families. Gossip, drinking and duels provide most of the town’s entertainment.

The only bridge into town is the old stone-pillared toll bridge. In five years, when the Cherokee are forced across this bridge, sick, starving, afraid, Nashvillians will claim they were so moved by the suffering that they tried to help the refugees, but were rebuked by the soldiers escorting them. Yet the people in Franklin’s coffle are also sick and afraid. They’ve been walking clear from Alexandria, D.C., and they’ll keep walking all the way to Natchez, Mississippi.

From historical accounts of such marches, notably George William Featherstonhaugh’sExcursion Through the Slave States” and Edward Baptist’sThe Half Has Never Been Told: Slavery and the Making of American Capitalism,” the picture comes into focus. The men’s bare feet are blistered and bloody. The haunted-looking women try to keep the spirits of the children up, but every night brings new horror. People are beaten and whipped. Franklin and the three other white men traveling with him take women off into the brush. Not far enough off. Everyone hears the women pleading. Later, they hear the women crying.

Almost everyone in Nashville has known Isaac Franklin since he was born. They all know about the women he keeps trapped on his farm outside of town. And they all know that, when Franklin’s captives get to Natchez, whatever hell they’ve faced on the road — the beatings, the rapes, the forced marches — will seem like the good old days. King Cotton will grind most of these people to a bloody pulp. The ones not destined for the plantation are likely destined for the brothel.

No one rescues them. A couple of local traders come out to talk to Franklin. He doesn’t even bother to get off his horse. He’s not as imposing as you might expect such a man to be. In portraits from the period, his black hair is fine and perpetually messy. He frowns instead of smiles and his eyes are dark with some secret disappointment.

One of the traders gestures to the middle of the coffle. The dark corners of history leave us to imagine their conversation. “I’ll give you $350 for the tall one over there,” he says.

“Gentlemen,” Franklin snorts, “that’s a buying price, not a selling price.” The man will bring eight to nine hundred dollars in Mississippi.

Franklin’s victims pass briefly among the villagers and then disappear down the Natchez Trace

…Perhaps most chilling, though, is the idle chit-chat about the young women they raped and sold for sex, the “maids” and “fancy girls” — code words for light-skinned slave women. Every “your” in that phrasing — “your girl Minerva,” “your fancy girl Allice,” “your Charlottesville maid” — indicates that Isaac is teasing Ballard about his fondness for “fancy maids.” Not that Franklin saw anything wrong with that. Indeed, his disappointment at not finding the Charlottesville maid in the most recent shipment of slaves seems an admission he was hoping to get his turn.

Later letters between the two men and another nephew, James Franklin, make clear that the Charlottesville maid, a woman named Martha, was eventually raped by all three of them. This practice — not just of raping one’s slaves, but of openly bragging and joking about raping them — was so widespread that in his essay “‘Cuffy,’ ‘Fancy Maids,’ and ‘One-Eyed Men’: Rape Commodification, and the Domestic Slave Trade in the United States,” Edward E. Baptist maintains that “coerced sex was the secret meaning of the commerce in human beings.” In other words, this wasn’t some moral failing of a few rotten men. This was an important privilege of slave ownership.

Franklin and Armfield were making a lot of money specifically from selling women to men so that the men could rape them. White men were especially eager to pay for young, light-skinned women. Ethan Andrews wrote of the practice, “[M]ulattoes are not so much valued for field-hands, they are purchased for domestics, and the females to be sold for prostitutes…no objection seems to be felt to keeping in one’s house female slaves, who have been guilty of crimes for which a white female would forfeit her life.”

As Franklin noted in his letter, he was getting $800 to $900 for the kind of slave usually considered the most expensive — a strong male field hand — and the same for unskilled “fancy maids.” He thought a “fancy maid” who could also sew would bring more than that: $1,000. The letters the traders sent each other are peppered with references to “the fancy white maid” and “the fair maid” and “our white Caroline.” But Isaac’s letter hints at the cost of this abuse to the women. He couldn’t sell Minerva because she had become “a caution,” an old term for a woman who is too difficult to deal with.

What became of Minerva isn’t clear from the letter. A slave suitable for sex work must be somewhat compliant. If Isaac couldn’t break her will, likely she would have been be sold as a field hand. That Minerva hadn’t already been sold as such is surprising, unless Franklin was keeping her for his own pleasure. The traders had their favorite fancies, which they alternately shared with each other and held back for their own use…

Read the entire article here.

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On Slave Ownership, Privilege and One Drop

Posted in Articles, History, Media Archive, Slavery, United States on 2015-04-25 23:09Z by Steven

On Slave Ownership, Privilege and One Drop

One Drop of Love: A Daughter’s Search for Her Father’s Racial Approval
2015-04-21

Fanshen Cox DiGiovanni, Writer, Performer and co-Producer

For just a little over two years I have traveled across the United States performing the one-woman show I wrote and produce, One Drop of Love. One Drop is about history and family, race, class, gender, privilege. One of the central themes – which I express decisively in the closing monologue – is the importance of having the courage to confront painful pasts in order to heal, and to help make real change in the present.

One of the reasons I’m invited to perform across the country – besides that One Drop resonates with a large cross-section of people – is that Ben Affleck and Matt Damon are also producers. I met both when we were young (Matt in elementary school and Ben in high school), and we became fast friends because we shared a strong interest in theater. We spent many hours after school and on summer vacations in rehearsals and performing together. They have supported me – and many people from our community and others – in pursuing dreams, and sharing our interests and skills with others.

My heart sank when I learned of the leaked Sony e-mail revealing Ben’s actions upon learning of his family’s history of slave ownership…

Read the entire article here.

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Scholar’s debut novel ties black, Native-American history

Posted in Articles, Biography, History, Media Archive, Native Americans/First Nation, Slavery, United States, Women on 2015-03-22 18:43Z by Steven

Scholar’s debut novel ties black, Native-American history

The Detroit Free Press
2015-03-22

Cassandra Spratling

Tiya Miles got it honest.

Straight from her grandmother’s garden. That knack for telling stories that pull at your heartstrings.

“I’m one of those people who had a storytelling grandma,” says Miles. “We’d be in the garden or snapping peas on the porch and my grandma would be telling stories, about life in Mississippi, about how the family lost their farm to a white man, about how they came up North on a train. Those stories riveted me and they shaped me.

“If my grandmother had had my life, she would have won three MacArthur Fellowships,” Miles says of her grandmother, the late Alice King.

But it was Miles, 45, who was granted a prestigious MacArthur Fellowship in 2011, and it was that award that gave her the shot of confidence she needed to up her game and write her first novel, which will be released next month.

Friends and coworkers at the University of Michigan are hosting a book launch party for “the Cherokee Rose” (John F. Blair, $26.95) Tuesday…

…Not that she doesn’t greatly appreciate the fellowship that annually doles out a ton of money to selected people in a variety of areas so that they can pursue their areas of interest, unencumbered by money woes.

Without it, she doubts she would have completed “the Cherokee Rose,” a novel that uses three modern day women to take readers on a haunting, sometimes horrific, but redemptive journey to a little-known past on a Southern plantation where Native-American and African-American lives were intertwined. In the process, the women make unexpected connections to one another and others…

Read the entire article here.

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The Cherokee Rose: A Novel Of Gardens & Ghosts

Posted in Books, Forthcoming Media, History, Native Americans/First Nation, Novels, Slavery, United States, Women on 2015-03-22 18:31Z by Steven

The Cherokee Rose: A Novel Of Gardens & Ghosts

John F. Blair
2015-04-07
264 pages
6×9
Hardcover ISBN: 978-0-89587-635-5

Tiya Miles, Elsa Barkley Brown Collegiate Professor of African American Women’s History
University of Michigan

Written by an award-winning historian and recipient of a recent MacArthur “Genius Grant,” The Cherokee Rose explores territory reminiscent of the bestselling and beloved works of Alice Walker, Octavia Butler, and Louise Erdrich. Now, Tiya Miles’s luminous but highly accessible novel examines a little-known aspect of America’s past—slaveholding by Southern Creeks and Cherokees—and its legacy in the lives of three young women who are drawn to the Georgia plantation where scenes of extreme cruelty and equally extraordinary compassion once played out.

Based on the author’s in-depth and award-winning research into archival sources at the Chief Vann House Historic Site in Chatsworth, Georgia, and the Moravian mission sponsored there in the early 1800s, Miles has blended this fascinating history with a contemporary cast of engaging and memorable characters, including Jinx, the free-spirited historian exploring her tribe’s complicated racial history; Ruth, whose mother sought refuge from a troubled marriage in her beloved garden and the cosmetic empire she built from its bounty; Cheyenne, the Southern black debutante seeking to connect with a meaningful personal history; and, hovering above them all, the spirit of long-gone Mary Ann Battis, a young woman suspected of burning a mission to the ground and then disappearing from tribal records. Together, the women’s discoveries about the secrets of the Cherokee plantation trace their attempts to connect with the strong spirits of the past and reconcile the conflicts in their own lives.

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‘Kiss me, I’m Irish’ took on a new meaning when DNA proved that I was

Posted in Articles, Europe, History, Media Archive, Slavery, United States on 2015-03-17 14:57Z by Steven

‘Kiss me, I’m Irish’ took on a new meaning when DNA proved that I was

The Guardian
2015-03-17

Michael W. Twitty

New tests confirmed what my family had long known: our ancestors were children of their Irish-American slaveholders

Like many African Americans, I was excited by the possibility of using DNA tests to learn about my cultural roots before they were severed by centuries of slavery, obfuscation and the destruction of records. Today, I’m proud to say that multiple tests have confirmed my roots among ethnic groups living Ghana, Sierra Leone and other countries in West and Central Africa.

But the tests also confirmed the legacy of slavery in quite another way: my family, like most black American families, has not one but several white ancestors – men who took advantage of their access to young enslaved women and, in the process, increased the number of human beings they called property.

“Kiss Me, I’m Irish” took on a whole new meaning for me, when I discovered that I was…

Read the entire article here.

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Kaleidoscope: Redrawing an American Family Tree

Posted in Autobiography, Biography, Books, Forthcoming Media, Mississippi, Monographs, Passing, Slavery, United States on 2015-03-13 19:37Z by Steven

Kaleidoscope: Redrawing an American Family Tree

University of Arkansas Press
2015-06-01
140 pages
10 images
6″ x 9″
Paper ISBN: 978-1-55728-815-8

Margaret Jones Bolsterli, Emeritus Professor
University of Arkansas, Fayetteville

In 2005 Margaret Jones Bolsterli learned that her great-great-grandfather was a free mulatto named Jordan Chavis, who owned an antebellum plantation near Vicksburg, Mississippi. The news was a shock; Bolsterli had heard about the plantation in family stories told during her Arkansas Delta childhood, but Chavis’s name and race had never been mentioned. With further exploration Bolsterli found that when Chavis’s children crossed the Mississippi River between 1859 and 1875 for exile in Arkansas, they passed into the white world, leaving the family’s racial history completely behind.

Kaleidoscope is the story of this discovery, and it is the story, too, of the rise and fall of the Chavis fortunes in Mississippi, from the family’s first appearance on a frontier farm in 1829 to ownership of over a thousand acres and the slaves to work them by 1860. Bolsterli learns that in the 1850s, when all free colored people were ordered to leave Mississippi or be enslaved, Jordan Chavis’s white neighbors successfully petitioned the legislature to allow him to remain, unmolested, even as three of his sons and a daughter moved to Arkansas and Illinois. She learns about the agility with which the old man balanced on a tightrope over chaos to survive the war and then take advantage of the opportunities of newly awarded citizenship during Reconstruction. The story ends with the family’s loss of everything in the 1870s, after one of the exiled sons returns to Mississippi to serve in the Reconstruction legislature and a grandson attempts unsuccessfully to retain possession of the land. In Kaleidoscope, long-silenced truths are revealed, inviting questions about how attitudes toward race might have been different in the family and in America if the truth about this situation and thousands of others like it could have been told before.

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A clerical correspondent writes us from the Southern coast protesting against the rapid tendency to amalgamation…

Posted in Articles, Media Archive, Slavery on 2015-03-03 21:59Z by Steven

A clerical correspondent writes us from the Southern coast protesting against the rapid tendency to amalgamation…

Franklin Repository
1863-12-09
page 4, column 4

Source: Valley of the Shadow: Civil War Era Newspapers, University of Virginia Library

A clerical correspondent writes us from the Southern coast protesting against the rapid tendency to amalgamation. He says that he has been called upon to perform the marriage service repeatedly where the bride was mulatto, quadroon or octoroon, and he calls upon Congress to arrest this unnatural mingling of the races, which, to use his own language, “threatens the annihilation of the white race in the United States.”

We beg our correspondent to quiet his fears on the subject. He cites some half a dozen cases to vindicate his apprehensions; but not one of them presents the union of a northern man with the southern negress. All the happy grooms were either southerners or foreigners, and they have been adopting no novel social system. Slavery has never fastened its desolation on any land without carrying the social evil of amalgamation with it; and the crime has been peculiar to the chivalric and opulent rather than to the lowly. Had our correspondent cast a thought as to the origin of the mulatto, quadroon and octoroon brides of whom he speaks, he might have cherished a reasonable suspicion that amalgamation is not just dawning upon the world, but has blotted and blurred the whole social organization of the South ever since slavery came with its endless train of crime.

In the North, where the negro race is free and not the legitimate prey of a brutal master’s lust, amalgamation is very rare, and embraces only the most abandoned of both sexes; and we regard the destruction of Slavery as the only hope of dealing a death-blow to that unnatural evil. Slavery has been its parent, its shield, its apologist and stripped it of its hideous moral deformity by bringing virtuous wives and daughters and sensual sons in daily contact with it; and when its great foundation is destroyed, the whole structure of social pollution will fall with it. The remedy is not in Congress, but in the moral tone of the people, and that seems to be progressing well toward a better and brighter Nationality, free from the blistering stains of both legalized and lawless mingling of the distance races of the Continent.

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Black Slaves, Indian Masters: Slavery, Emancipation, and Citizenship in the Native American South

Posted in Books, History, Media Archive, Monographs, Native Americans/First Nation, Slavery, United States on 2015-02-24 21:59Z by Steven

Black Slaves, Indian Masters: Slavery, Emancipation, and Citizenship in the Native American South

University of North Carolina Press
February 2015
232 pages
6.125 x 9.25
11 halftones, notes, bibl., index
Paper ISBN: 978-1-4696-2187-6

Barbara Krauthamer, Associate Professor of History
University of Massachusetts, Amherst

From the late eighteenth century through the end of the Civil War, Choctaw and Chickasaw Indians bought, sold, and owned Africans and African Americans as slaves, a fact that persisted after the tribes’ removal from the Deep South to Indian Territory. The tribes formulated racial and gender ideologies that justified this practice and marginalized free black people in the Indian nations well after the Civil War and slavery had ended. Through the end of the nineteenth century, ongoing conflicts among Choctaw, Chickasaw, and U.S. lawmakers left untold numbers of former slaves and their descendants in the two Indian nations without citizenship in either the Indian nations or the United States. In this groundbreaking study, Barbara Krauthamer rewrites the history of southern slavery, emancipation, race, and citizenship to reveal the centrality of Native American slaveholders and the black people they enslaved.

Krauthamer’s examination of slavery and emancipation highlights the ways Indian women’s gender roles changed with the arrival of slavery and changed again after emancipation and reveals complex dynamics of race that shaped the lives of black people and Indians both before and after removal.

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EIHS Lecture: “Partus Sequitur Ventrem: Slave Law and the History of Women in Slavery”

Posted in History, Law, Live Events, Media Archive, Slavery, United States, Virginia on 2015-02-04 18:42Z by Steven

EIHS Lecture: “Partus Sequitur Ventrem: Slave Law and the History of Women in Slavery”

Eisenberg Institute for Historical Studies
University of Michigan
1014 Tisch Hall
435 South State Street
Ann Arbor, Michigan 48109-1003
2015-02-05, 16:00-18:00 CST (Local Time)

Jennifer L. Morgan, Professor of Social and Cultural Analysis, History
New York University

In 1662, legislators in the Virginia Colony passed a law that determined that, in the matter of sex between free English men and “negro women,” the legal condition of the child should follow that of the mother. Long understood as the law that codified hereditary racial slavery, this code reassured slaveowning settlers that, in the matter of enslaved people, enslaveability devolved through the mother: Partus Sequitur Ventrem or, literally, “offspring follows belly.” In this paper I ask how this legislative intervention might have been perceived by enslaved women and men in the sixteenth- and seventeenth-century English Atlantic.

Jennifer L. Morgan is the author of Laboring Women: Gender and Reproduction in the Making of New World Slavery (University of Pennsylvania Press, 2004). Her research examines the intersections of gender and race in colonial America. She is currently a member of the Institute for Advanced Study in Princeton where she is at work on a project that considers colonial numeracy, racism, and the rise of the trans-Atlantic slave trade in the seventeenth-century English Atlantic, tentatively titled Accounting for the Women in Slavery. She is Professor of History in the Department of Social and Cultural Analysis and the Department of History at New York University and lives in New York City.

Free and open to the public…

For more information, click here.

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