By Larry Koger
Have been black masters assorted from white? An research of all features and especially of the commercialism of black slaveowning debunks the parable that black slaveholding was once a benevolent establishment in response to kinship, and explains the transition of black masters from slavery to paid hard work.
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Extra info for Black Slaveowners: Free Black Slave Masters in South Carolina 1790-1860
For instance, Elias Collins was reported to be the owner of 34 slaves by the federal enumerator of the fourth census. 14 After a careful examination of the census return for Elias Collins, the logical deduction would be that Collins was the white male living in the household, the head of the family and a slaveowner. However, that observation is erroneous. In a cross-check of the census return with state and local documents, the deduction that Elias Collins was a white planter cannot be substantiated; rather, the crosscheck firmly demonstrates that he was a free person of color and a slaveowner.
The problem stems from the fact that slaves recorded in family dwellings were occasionally held by more than one member of the free household. As a result, the number of slaveowners might have been greater, while the average number of slaves held would have been smaller. Such numerical statistics, then, must be stated with much caution. The free black heads of household who were reported with slaves on the 1790 through 1840 censuses should not be referred to as individual slaveowners unless added data has been acquired to suggest ownership of slaves.
DaCosta, a free woman of color from Charleston City, sold 21 slaves to George Thompson for $6,635. By 1850 Mrs. DaCosta and her husband, William P. DaCosta, retained the services of ten slaves. Ten years later, the couple held eight slaves, and by 1862 they owned only seven bondsmen. Between 1830 and 1860, the number of colored slaveowners who owned more than five slaves declined from 96 to 23 masters in Charleston City. 1 persons in 1860. Within six months before General Robert E. 6 For the most part, black slaveholding was an urban phenomenon and dominated the city of Charleston.