They Were Her Property: White Women as Slave Owners in the American South

They Were Her Property: White Women as Slave Owners in the American South

by Stephanie E. Jones-Rogers


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A bold and searing investigation into the role of white women in the American slave economy
Bridging women’s history, the history of the South, and African American history, this book makes a bold argument about the role of white women in American slavery. Historian Stephanie E. Jones-Rogers draws on a variety of sources to show that slave‑owning women were sophisticated economic actors who directly engaged in and benefited from the South’s slave market. Because women typically inherited more slaves than land, enslaved people were often their primary source of wealth. Not only did white women often refuse to cede ownership of their slaves to their husbands, they employed management techniques that were as effective and brutal as those used by slave‑owning men. White women actively participated in the slave market, profited from it, and used it for economic and social empowerment. By examining the economically entangled lives of enslaved people and slave‑owning women, Jones-Rogers presents a narrative that forces us to rethink the economics and social conventions of slaveholding America.

Product Details

ISBN-13: 9780300218664
Publisher: Yale University Press
Publication date: 02/19/2019
Pages: 320
Sales rank: 65,475
Product dimensions: 6.30(w) x 9.30(h) x 1.30(d)

About the Author

Stephanie E. Jones-Rogers is associate professor of history at the University of California, Berkeley. She is the winner of the 2013 Lerner-Scott Prize for best doctoral dissertation in U.S. women’s history.

Table of Contents

Introduction: Mistresses of the Market ix

1 Mistresses in the Making 1

2 "I Belong to de Mistis" 25

3 "Missus Done Her Own Bossing" 57

4 "She Thought She Could Find a Better Market" 81

5 "Wet Nurse for Sale or Hire" 101

6 "That 'Oman Took Delight in Sellin' Slaves" 123

7 "Her Slaves Have Been Liberated and Lost to Her" 151

8 "A Most Unprecedented Robbery" 181

Epilogue: Lost Kindred, Lost Cause 200

Notes 207

Bibliography 253

Acknowledgments 275

Index 279

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They Were Her Property: White Women as Slave Owners in the American South 5 out of 5 based on 0 ratings. 3 reviews.
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
This was a very fascinating read about the involvement of white women in American slavery. Slavery is often seen as something masculine, but this very well researched book shows that women were just as involved as men. They were owners, sellers and traders, who profited financially from slavery. And not just financially, their social status was higher too. To support subjugation of black people, white women were obviously placed in a position where men did not have the control over them that is seen as common in those days. And with financial power, they have more social power. Like the book says, white women were not passive bystanders, they were co-conspirators.
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
An excellent study about often ignored aspect of slavery: white women. The book reveals the power of white women as slave owners and their role in slavery. It discusses an intersection of gender and slavery, as well as historical and economic circumstances, capitalism and worldview. Highly recommended read.
GayleT00000 More than 1 year ago
This book covers the subject of slavery from A to Z, looking through the lens of women's ownership of enslaved people from the time of slavery in the US until Emancipation in the 1860s. Nearly every aspect of this subject is covered, covering the way women treated enslaved people versus the way they were treated by the men who owned them. Generally, women owners were more shrewd and more compassionate about the treatment of those who were enslaved, but this is a relative term when considering that enslaved people were commodities, pure and simple, and they were nothing more than belongings who were collected, bought, sold and traded, as long as they were valuable assets to their owners' farms. This is not a pleasant book; it's not meant to be, but it is eye-opening when it comes to the ways enslaved people were treated and how they were used (as wet nurses to their owners' infants, gifts to their owners' children at their births, marriages or for no particular reason). There are brutal examples of how enslaved people were treated, punishments given for trivial infractions, or sometimes for no reason at all. This book is exhaustive in its research, with nothing left out.