During [America’s] period of slavery, many freed blacks worked for years to purchase the freedom of family members.
But a great many Negro freemen became slave masters themselves, and for the same reason as whites–to make use of slave labor for the sake of profits. Larry Koger writes, “By and large, Negro slaveowners were darker copies of their white counterparts.
” Following are excerpts from Chapter 6 of his book,Black Slaveowners: Free Black Slave Masters in South Carolina, 1790-1860 [University of South Carolina Press].
Many historians have argued that the majority of black masters purchased their relatives and friends who were held in bondage. Being unable to manumit [to release from slavery] their loved ones, the black masters were forced to hold their kinsfolk and friends as nominal slaves. So they treated their relatives and friends as free persons, and whenever possible, they attempted to…
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