Left behind but getting ahead antebellum slavery's orphans in the Chesapeake, 1820-60

Research output: Chapter in Book/Report/Conference proceedingChapter

1 Scopus citations

Abstract

Enslaved children left behind in the antebellum Chesapeake faced an unforgiving landscape of challenges as their parents were sold off to the cotton plantations of the Deep South. Forced separations orphaned countless youngsters, as slaveholders broke up, through sales, one in three marriages among the people they owned each decade between 1820 and the onset of the American Civil War in 1861. Slaveholders hired other spouses away at considerable distances and converted one in five enslaved people of any age into cash. Children witnessed thefts of fathers, dislocations of mothers, and the scattering of siblings, uncles, aunts, and cousins. In one of the largest forced migrations in modern history the market prized the fit and the fertile, which left children behind, bereft, but-as children-also innocent to the systemic implications of their losses.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Title of host publicationChildren in Slavery Through the Ages
PublisherOhio University Press
Pages204-224
Number of pages21
ISBN (Print)9780821418772
StatePublished - Dec 1 2009

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Arts and Humanities(all)

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    Schermerhorn, J. (2009). Left behind but getting ahead antebellum slavery's orphans in the Chesapeake, 1820-60. In Children in Slavery Through the Ages (pp. 204-224). Ohio University Press.