Black Slaveowners & Reparations

By Ed Toner

 

Your Views, Asbury Park Press

I read with interest the article entitled "Lawsuit seeking slave reparations planned", but was disappointed in not finding any mention of free blacks who owned slaves. This subject was mentioned in AMERICAN HERITAGE, Feb./Mar. 1993 (vol. 441) under the title Selling Poor Steven beginning on page 90. Citing the official US Census of 1830, there were 3,775 free blacks who owned 12,740 black slaves. Furthermore, the story outlines the history of slavery here, and the first slave owner, the Father of American Slavery, was Mr. Anthony Johnson, of Northampton VA. His slave was John Casor, the first slave for life. Both were black Africans. This is part of Virginia's history that deserves attention.

The story is very readable, and outlines cases of free black women owning their husbands, free black parents selling their children into slavery to white owners, and absentee free black slave owners, who leased their slaves to plantation owners, among other things. Most libraries carry back issues of American Heritage.

Another interesting book on the same subject is Free Negro Owners of Slaves in the United States in 1830, by the noted black historian, Carter G. Woodson. This book lists the names and address of free blacks who owned slaves. Among them is one George C. Washington of Washington DC.

How will it be determined who is descended from the black slave owners? Are descendents of free black slave owners to be included in this lawsuit? Will any consideration be given to the fact that African Americans today are far better off than practically all the blacks still in Africa?

 

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