Welcome to Wilma A. Dunaway's Slavery and Emancipation in the Mountain South: Evidence, Sources, and Methods
The Supplementary Electronic Archive for Slavery in the American Mountain South (Cambridge University Press, 2003) and
The African-American Family in Slavery and Emancipation (Cambridge University Press, 2003)
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Illustration 1.1 The house of Cherokee slaveholder John Ross was typical of Appalachian small plantations.
Illustration 1.2 An eighteenth-century shipload of Africans to be auctioned at Charleston, South Carolina
Illustration 1.3 A slave chambermaid in an Abingdon, Virginia hotel. More than one-third of all Appalachian slaveholders and one-fifth of the slaves were engaged in such nonagricultural pursuits.
Illustration 1.4 Monticello, the Blue Ridge plantation of Thomas Jefferson, typified Appalachia=s wealthiest slaveholding elites.
Illustration 1.5 Appalachian masters invested in commercial stage and wagon lines, and they allocated slave labor to such ventures much more frequently than Lower South large plantations.
Illustration 2.1 The gender division of field labor is seen in this Botetourt County, Virginia wheat harvest. Two males are collecting the cut grain from the field and operating an oxcart to haul it to centralized spots where two women are stacking the grain. Subsequently, the same males would haul the grain to the barn where other women were threshing.
Illustration 2.2 This small plantation was maximizing labor through an organized cotton ginning party to which adjacent masters sent their slaves. When the work was complete, slave women served everyone a large dinner, and they danced when permitted.
Illustration 2.3 Appalachian slave women were disproportionately represented among field laborers while men had more opportunities for elite artisan occupations. Women were considered by northern Alabama masters to be especially efficient at cotton harvesting. One of the dangers to pregnant women was the handling of 125 pound harvest baskets or large bags strapped over the shoulder.
Illustration 2.4 Appalachian slaves were livestock artisans and specialists of all kinds. This southwest Virginia slave drover is exporting his owner=s cattle to Richmond. Appalachian pork and beef provisioned larger plantations in the Tidewater, the Lower South, and Latin America.
Illustration 2.5 This was hog slaughtering day on an Augusta County, Virginia small plantation. Appalachian slaves provided the skills to produce and process the pork and lard consumed on a small plantation, plus the surplus meat products exported by their owners.
Illustration 3.1 This slave woman operated her owner=s small inn that served rafts and boats on the Tennessee River outside Chattanooga.
Illustration 3.2 In addition to their agricultural pursuits, many Appalachian slaveholders invested in town enterprises to which they allocated slave laborers, like this valet and hostler at a Lexington, Virginia hotel.
Illustration 3.3 Slaves provided much of the labor for Appalachia=s antebellum travel enterprises, comprised of resorts, hotels, inns, transportation companies, and the livestock drover trade. During the summers, Appalachian slaves were regularly hired to work at 134 mineral spas, such as these workers at White Sulphur Springs in West Virginia.
Illustration 3.4 Slave musicians at a Chattanooga hotel
Illustration 3.5 Hired slave roustabouts provided most of the labor for river steamboats. Such long-term hireouts kept husbands away from their families much of the year.
Illustration 3.6 Slaves regularly operated especially designed boats and bateaux on the three major canal systems that connected the Southern Mountains to distant trade cities. This barge was spotted on the North River extension connecting Lexington, Virginia to the James River and Kanawha Canal to Richmond.
Illustration 3.7 Slaves and Irish immigrants provided most of the labor to build antebellum railroads in the Mountain South.
Illustration 4.1 Some plantations processed their own tobacco for export. These slaves are dipping tobacco to prepare it for pressing and formation into plugs. This type of work exposed slaves, including children and pregnant women, to dangerous chemicals that caused lung infections and intestinal ailments.
Illustration 4.2 Cyrus McCormick used slave artisans to design and construct his famous reaper in a Rockbridge County, Virginia workshop.
Illustration 4.3 Slaves supplied most of the labor to produce Appalachia=s salt, one of the region=s most important exports to the Lower South and the Midwest. At this salt manufactory in southwest Virginia, slaves did most of the skilled work, such as kettle tending (right) and boiler tending (left).
Illustration 4.4 Slaves, like these North Carolina shaft borers, comprised a significant segment of the inter-ethnic labor force that propelled the country=s first gold rush in the Southern Mountains.
Illustration 4.5 During fall and winter, Appalachian slaves produced lumber, cordwood, and other products from the forests owned by their masters. These workers are carting shingles (left high) and picket fence railings (left low) to market at Hagerstown, Maryland.
Illustration 4.6 Slaves in lumber camps, like this West Virginia enterprise, lived in temporary lean-tos, ate a diet of fat pork and wild game, and were exposed to numerous injuries and water-borne infectious diseases.
Illustration 5.1 This east Kentucky slaveholder was migrating westward, so he sold off 23 slaves at public auction in Lexington. Only one of the adults is being sold with her child. Note that 17 children younger than twenty are being sold separate from their parents. When they were interviewed in the 1930s, many of the Appalachian ex-slaves said they had been sold away from parents during childhood. Source: Coleman Papers, University of Kentucky
Illustration 5.2 The Southern Mountains lay at the geographical heart of the domestic slave trade, so slave coffles were a common sight in Appalachian counties. This coffle had camped for the night, waiting to cross the New River in southwest Virginia.
Illustration 5.3 Because they profited less from their field labor, Appalachian masters hired out a higher proportion of their slaves than did Lower South plantations. For example, mountain Virginia masters hired out surplus slaves to tobacco manufactories, like this one in Lynchburg.
Illustration 5.4 In the 1850s, western North Carolina slaves were bought and hired for railroad construction. Source: Asheville News, 10 February 1859
Illustration 5.5 Steamboats that plied Appalachian rivers hired hundreds of mountain slaves. These slaves are dragging the steamboat through an area called Athe sucks,@ on the Tennessee River near Chattanooga. Because these annual contracts kept males away from home most of the year, these abroad fathers rarely interacted with their children who remained in female-headed households on small plantations.
Illustration 6.1 This Page County, Virginia slave cabin was typical of the dwellings supplied for black Appalachians on small plantations. Note the leaning wood chimney chinked with mud. This couple is attired in clothing that indicates their higher status as servants in their owner=s household.
Illustration 6.2 This slave quarter had a well, avoiding the scarcity of safe water that placed so many black Appalachians at risk. Several depicted sanitation problems caused higher mortality rates among slaves on small mountain plantations. Children crawled and played barefoot in the same yard where pigs, dogs, and chickens wandered. In the absence of privies, human excrement was used to fertilize slave gardens. These cabins, like most mountain slave dwellings, had dirt floors, a single window, and root cellars. The cabins were constructed close together, facilitating the rapid spread of infectious diseases.
Illustration 6.3 Hired steamboat roustabouts catching a brief rest from loading and unloading at Charleston, West Virginia. In addition to the dangers of bad food, frequent injuries, and lung infections from dampness and mold, such hireouts exposed Appalachian slaves to frequent epidemics of malaria, smallpox, typhoid, and cholera.
Illustration 6.4 Appalachian masters allocated weekly rations of fat pork and cornmeal to slaves. However, these supplies were nutritionally inadequate. A majority of mountain masters required their slaves to produce much of their own food supply.
Illustration 6.5 This Randolph County, West Virginia woman baked her master=s daily wheat bread in a brick oven. However, most Appalachian small plantations rarely supplied flour or white bread to slaves. Dependent on weekly corn meal rations, mountain slaves consumed a breakfast of less nutritious ash cakes or spoon bread prepared in their fireplaces.
Illustration 6.6 Until old enough to fish, as these boys are doing on the northern Georgia=s Chattahoochee River, Appalachian slave children received little meat and inadequate protein in their diets. Malnutrition and the resultant chronic illnesses accounted for high child mortality rates on small Appalachian plantations.
Illustrations 7.1 to 7.3: Threats to Family Stability
Illustration 7. Through several forced labor migration strategies, such as sales and hireouts, Appalachian masters structured the absence of adult males from slave households, as is depicted in this sale of a husband away from his family. After emancipation, almost none of the spouses separated by such sales were able to reunite.
Illustration 7.2 Appalachian masters exported slaves to the Lower South by using the services of auction houses at trading hubs, such as this one in Richmond. Such interstate sales broke two of every five slave marriages.
Illustration 7.3 Until they were old enough for field work, youngsters were put to work at all kinds of unskilled tasks on small plantations. Working in the Big House kept children away from their families much of the time and denied them the parental discipline and support of their fathers.
Illustration 8.1 On this small plantation on the Tennessee River outside Knoxville, this slave woman and her children occupied a cabin attached to the back of the master=s house. Such proximity to the owner and his sons increased the likelihood that women and girls would be sexually exploited.
Illustration 8.2 Due to attenuated breastfeeding, malnutrition, and inadequate child care, one-half of all Appalachian slave children died before age ten. Elderly slaves, like this Rockbridge County, Virginia woman, tended large groups of children while mothers worked in the fields or were hired out.
Illustration 8.3 Until they were old enough to work in the fields, young Appalachian slave girls worked in the master=s house. Their exposure to white males led to a high incidence of pre-teen sexual abuse by whites. In addition, some girls were trained to be nursemaids or wet nurses. In those adult roles, they would spend their lives tending white children, weaning their own offspring too young and leaving them without adequate child care.
Illustration 8.4 Small Appalachian plantations provided little medical care for their slaves, so women received little prenatal care. Black herb doctors, like western Maryland=s John Cupid, collected, prepared and administered a majority of the herbal treatments that mountain slaves received.
Illustration 8.5 To produce surplus slave laborers for export to the Lower South, Appalachian slaveholders engaged in reproductive exploitation in several forms. In addition to a high child mortality rate, mothers endured the horrors of having one of every three of their children sold away before age fifteen.
Illustration 9.1 This West Virginia slave earned some cash for his household by providing music for the weddings or parties at the homes of his owner=s neighbors.
Illustration 9.2 These West Virginia slaves were lucky enough to be employed at an elite slave occupation that was not available to females. Appalachian slave women were disproportionately represented among field laborers on small plantations, and they rarely were able to earn extra cash, as this blacksmith did.
Illustration 9.3 Slave artisans, like this Waynesville, North Carolina carpenter, sometimes earned cash through self-hire in towns or with neighbors. However, cash earning was rare among slaves on small plantations.
Illustration 9.4 While taking turns spinning, women passed on songs and stories to their children who played on the floor. They also used such occasions to engage in illicit night-time prayer meetings.
Illustration 9.5 In addition to their field work, Appalachian slave women were required to spin, weave, and sew every night. Women produced all the clothing and bedding used by slaves on small plantations and much of the requirements of their white owners. Source: WPA Slave Narrative Collection, National Archives
Illustration 10.1 Poor white patrollers regulated the movements of Appalachian slaves, and regional slave narratives include numerous instances of resistance against patrollers. More often than they punished any other offense, patrollers whipped male black Appalachians for being away without leave to visit their nearby abroad families.
Illustration 10.2 Capture of runaway slaves in a barn near Harper=s Ferry, West Virginia. Most Appalachian runaways did not leave the area where their families resided; instead they Alaid out,@ sometimes for several months, depending on other blacks to help them in their resistance.
Illustration 10.3 These Loudoun County, Virginia slaves were very aggressive in their escape to the North. Women were included among this group, but most such runaways were males aged 18 to 35.
Illustration 10.4 Slaves escaping by boat from a small plantation on the Tennessee River outside Knoxville
Illustration 11.1 The celebration of a slave wedding in the yard of a Franklin County, Virginia plantation. Such social gatherings offered opportunities for Appalachian slaves to reach beyond the confines of small plantations to engage in community building and cultural celebration.
Illustration 11.2 Following the African tradition of the griot, older Appalachian slaves told stories that preserved distinctive slave culture, mocked white character flaws, and idealized the black resistant spirit. These slaves are attired in ASunday clothes@ that they would have purchased from their own earnings.
Illustration 11.3 There are no women at this Fauquier County, Virginia corn husking, a labor maximizing strategy at harvest time. On many small plantations, men processed corn while slave women quilted winter bedding. About midnight, food would be served, and the singing and dancing could begin.
Illustration 11.4 Funerals were a public exhibition of the persistent family ties and community bonds among Appalachian slaves. At this northern Alabama death, the master (left tophat) and the slave preacher (right tophat) walk on opposite sides of the wagon that bore the deceased laborer to the burial plot. Following African tradition, the funeral procession set the pace with songs and wails.
Illustration 11.5 Summer and harvest dances were significant mechanisms for community building by Appalachian slaves on small plantations. In this Fauquier County, Virginia scene, the group is preserving African dance traditions. The mid-ground slave is Apatting juba@ to set the pace for the other two. Notice the observation platform in the tree. Slaves used such perches to light their night work in their subsistence parcels.
Illustration 11.6 Like this Rabun County, Georgia gathering, Appalachian slaves participated illegally in night-time religious services. Because they were assigned textiles production at night, women combined that required labor with unauthorized prayer meetings and singings. Thus, black females were punished for such resistance more often than men.
Illustration 12.1 There was a vast economic and class gulf between the majority of white Appalachians and mountain slaveholders. More than half the region's whites fell below the national poverty line in 1860, and 60 percent of them were landless. This West Virginia home of a tenant farmer typified the lifestyle of more than half the region's white families.
Illustration 13.1 After a major battle in their area, these Fauquier County, Virginia fugitives were crossing the Rappahannock River headed to the Union encampment. These are probably the families of the uniformed black Union soldiers (behind wagon). In the background are a commercial mill and a bridge. Source: Freedmen=s Bureau Records, National Archives
Illustration 13.2 The Union army treated Appalachian slaves like Acontraband of war.@ After a raid on this middle Tennessee plantation, the soldiers conscripted male laborers. The officer is telling them that the elderly, women, and children will not be permitted to accompany the males to the military sites.
Illustration 13.3 This Unionist guerilla raid on a small plantation took all livestock, food provisions, and damaged the buildings. Such raids by both sides were common throughout the Southern Mountains.
Illustration 13.4 The Union army impressed slave women to work as camp laundresses and as aides in military hospitals. These women rarely received their promised wages, and they were frequently evicted from contraband camps when the populations grew too large. Such women faced sexual exploitation and white violence in the camps.
Illustration 13.5 The Union Army impressed thousands of slave teamsters. In fact, slaves from the Appalachian counties of Tennessee and Alabama were over-represented among federal military laborers and soldiers.
Illustration 13.6 The women and children among these fugitive slaves coming into Union lines near Chattanooga were relocated to the contraband camp at Nashville where living conditions were horrific and federal officers defrauded workers of their wages.
Illustration 13.7 These West Virginia slaves joined those who were held at Union contraband camps. By war=s end, two-fifths of West Virginia=s slaves were enlisted as soldiers or working as military laborers. At most camps, fugitives were housed in single-room barracks, like the one shown in the background at this Cumberland Landing, West Virginia site. Source: Freedmen=s Bureau Records, National Archives
Illustration 13.8 The Union army impressed hundreds of slaves from the Appalachian counties of Kentucky, Tennessee, Alabama, and Virginia to build railroads.
Illustration 13.9 By war=s end, two-fifths of all black Appalachian adults were relocated to contraband camps or to military labor sites. These Acontrabands of war@ are selling produce, poultry, and hogs to Union officers.
Illustration 13.10 While this sketch gives the impression that the Union army regularly issued provisions to blacks at contraband camps, military records show that Quartermasters allocated most of the provisions to whites, issuing 32 times more meat per capita to whites. The families of black soldiers and military laborers were often defrauded and left to fend for themselves. Source: Freedmen=s Bureau Records, National Archives
Illustration 14.1 Like most Appalachian slaveholders, this master is telling Ahis people@ that they are free in the middle of winter, six months or longer after the war=s end. After such announcements, the majority of Appalachian ex-slaves remained with former owners much of the Reconstruction period.
Illustration 14.2 The vast majority of Appalachian slaves were not emancipated until their masters were forced by the army or the Freedmen=s Bureau to free them.
Illustration 14.3 When ex-slaves refused to sign labor contracts, the Freedmen=s Bureau put them to public work, alongside others who were guarded by Union soldiers.
Illustration 14.4 During and after the war, black Appalachians pored into towns, like Knoxville, Staunton, Rome, and Winchester. By 1870, one-quarter of the mountain ex-slaves were concentrated in towns, but few of them located stable nonagricultural occupations.
Illustration 14.5 More than two-fifths of Appalachia=s emancipated family units were headed by women. Washwomen were a common sight in towns, for there were few nonagricultural employment opportunities for these impoverished households.
Illustration 14.6 Some emancipated slaves, like Booker T. Washington=s father, continued to work in West Virginia=s salt industry. However, black Appalachians were employed in industrial jobs during slavery much more frequently than they were hired for such jobs between 1865 and 1870.
Illustration 14.7 The Freedmen=s Bureau implicated the Ku Klux Klan in about 15 percent of the assaults against Appalachian ex-slaves. This broadside makes no mention of black schools, churches, or political activism, but the Klan directed much of its violence toward those activities in mountain counties. Source: Freedmen=s Bureau Records, National Archives
Illustration 14.8 In 1870, more than one-quarter of the families of Appalachian ex-slaves were still residing as laborers in white households. Impoverished and illiterate women, like this Chattanooga maid, headed most of those families.
Illustration 14.9 More than one-fifth of all black Appalachian children were residing as laborers in white households in 1870. After emancipation, county courts and the Freedmen=s Bureau indentured many such children to their former owners, leaving them virtually in enslavement for another five to ten years