Blacks Owning Slaves

By Ed Toner


Dear Editor,

What is not mentioned on the subject of slavery is the involvement of free blacks in the USA who owned slaves. A book by the late noted black historian, Carter G. Woodson lists the names and number of slaves owned by free blacks counted in the U. S. Census of 1830. The book is entitled "FREE NEGRO OWNERS OF SLAVES IN THE UNITED STATES IN 1830", and it lists them by name, and the number of slaves owned. An interesting case is George C. Washington of DC who owned a slave. The book is broken down into states and counties. It was published by the Negro Universities Press of Westport CT. The last re-printing was in 1973. The count was 3,775 free blacks who owned 12760 slaves.

More recently the AMERICAN HERITAGE Feb/Mar 1993 Vol. 441 carried a story called SELLING POOR STEVEN. This very readable article details the history of slavery here, including the first man to own a slave for life was Anthony Johnson of the Virginia Colony in 1665. Johnson was a black African who owned a plantation, and a fellow African, John Casor.

Other interesting tid-bits in this story include the fairly large number of free black women who owned slaves, including their husbands. One such case was Rose Petepher of NC who bought her husband, Richard Gasken. They raised several children, and then sold them as slaves for the profit.

It would be nice if these things were taught during the upcoming Black History Month.

For publication,

Edward J. Toner Jr. LCDR USN (Ret.)



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