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The Value of Slaves

Updated: Feb 4, 2019

Most of us have heard the horrific stories about slavery, the darkest period in American history, aside from the wars that were fought on our soil. Some of us have even seen "Roots", the original series, which tore at the heart of anyone who has one. But did you know there are diaries, journals, and first-hand accounts of plantation life in historical books and publications from the 1800s?

Yes, the harsh realities of this inhumane practice are preserved forever on aged book pages. I discovered several while researching the Civil War and I must warn you, hearing the accounts of how these men, women, and children were treated is enough to make anyone angry. But who can we be angry at? My conclusion is that evil men are the ones to blame. Evil men of practically every race who bought and sold other human beings for profit. Evil men whose greed and selfishness overpowered their compassion and better judgment.

The sale of African slaves didn't start with Americans, however. According to the book shown below, the Portuguese had been buying slaves from Africa since before Columbus set sail, and there may have been earlier accounts. Many other countries also bought slaves, and some treated them far more inhumanely than any slave in America, which we can probably credit to America being founded on Christian principles, although not all followed the faith. Some turned from their faith, valuing material possessions and wealth more than the favor of God. They coveted luxury more than they feared eternal damnation, and as the Scriptures warn, they were given up to evil devices as a result.

The Civil War was a result of the North's opposition to such practices. The slaves in the south who were able to escape, fled to the north where they could be free. This was a major loss for those who had invested in slaves, some owning hundreds of slaves.

You can also find actual catalogs, like the one shown here. A shameful account of the happenings at a slave auction, where men and women referred to as "chattel" were being sold for a few hundred dollars a piece. Note: $100 in 1859 was the equivalent of $2,814 in 2017, (Source). The young family shown here was sold for about $67,536 in today's currency, or $16,884 each. (Hopefully that's not the only reason I found no slave owners in my family!)

The south wanted a president who was sympathetic to their agenda and threatened to secede from the Union if a Republican president were elected. When Abraham Lincoln became president, they attempted to do just that. In the end, the south lost and slavery was abolished.

Following are just a few of the resources available to those interested in learning more about slavery in the United States:

  • Catalogue of Slaves from the Waverly Plantation (Click here)

  • Ferry Hill Plantation Journal 1838-1839 (Click here)

  • Thirty years a slave. From bondage to freedom. The institution of slavery as seen on the plantation and in the home of the planter (Click here)

  • Journal of a Residence on a Georgia Plantation in 1838-1839 (Click here)

  • American Negro slavery : a survey of the supply, employment and control of Negro labor as determined by the plantation régime (Click here)

  • What became of the slaves on a Georgia plantation? Great auction sale of slaves, at Savannah, Georgia, March 2d & 3d, 1859. A sequel to Mrs. Kemble's Journal (Click here)

See also, "American Negro slavery : a survey of the supply, employment and control of Negro labor as determined by the plantation régime", shown below. The informative book below gives a history of how, when, and where slavery began in America.

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