Black Slaveowners: A Review

It is widely believed that slavery in 19th-century America was the exclusive province of whites. However, as historian Larry Kroger reveals in Black Slaveowners, free black people in the United States owned slaves, fought for their right to do so and had little sympathy for abolition. A five-year investigation of federal census data, wills, mortgages, bills of sale, tax returns and newspaper ads from 1790 to 1860 provided the foundation for Koger's examination of black slave masters in the Palmetto state, culminating in his illuminating book, Black Slaveowners: Free Black Slave Masters in South Carolina, 1790-1860 (McFarland, 1985). Charleston City, in which 72.1% of African-America households owned slaves, was a valuable primary documentation source. Records that survived the Civil War indicated the existence of 260 black slave masters. This well-sourced book, which contains lengthy appendices of federal census data and well over 600 citations, represents an earnest attempt...(Read Full Article)