PDA

View Full Version : Consequences for female plantation owners having affairs with slaves?


gytalf2000
10-26-2007, 05:42 PM
I have recently glanced through the "Anybody here descended from slave owners?" thread. I started wondering about what might happen if a female plantation owner, or the wife of a plantation owner, were caught having an affair with a male slave. I know that the reverse situation (male slaveowner/female slave) happened quite often, with no real negative consequences for the male slaveowner. It seems to me that the women of the time might decide to have an affair with one of their slaves, but I imagine that it would probably not go so well for them if found out. It would probably have disastrous consequences for the male slave.

So, are there any records of what happened to women who had affairs with slaves? Any info would be appreciated!

Mr. Slant
10-26-2007, 06:44 PM
I've read a healthy amount on slavery in that era and found not a single record of what you described.
That being said, I'm no historian.
I'll submit that you've got only two possible outcomes for the participants here:
1. Flight
- for either
2. Death by murder
- for either
3. Incarceration
- for her

Darryl Lict
10-26-2007, 06:46 PM
Isn't there a documentary called Mandingo (http://www.imdb.com/title/tt0073349/) about this very issue? :)

Mr. Slant
10-26-2007, 06:48 PM
Oh, and I meant to say, I've recently read Time on the Cross, an economic treatment of southern American slavery.
It appears that male slaveholders engage in marital relations with their property was a poor labor relations practice likely to result in substantial expense to the slaveholder including lost production and increased management effort.
As such, the number of slaveholders engaging in this behavior was startlingly low: I believe I saw 2%, although I may have seen 0.2%.

Manda JO
10-26-2007, 10:31 PM
In the slave narrative "Incidents in the Life of a Slave Girl" , Harriet Jacobs (http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Harriet_Jacobs) describes cases where the daughters of slave-owners periodically got pregnant by slaves: the offspring, according to her, were smothered or sent away at birth. In the one specific case she recounts, the girl had sent the baby's father away before the pregnancy was discovered--the implication was that he would have been killed. The fate of the girl is not mentioned.

She also makes it very, very clear that illegitimate children by slaveholders were ubiquitious. Now then, she had an agenda--she was looking to shock and disgust white middle class Northern women with the depravity of slavery--but it is a contempory account.

monstro
10-26-2007, 11:08 PM
Sojourner Truth was allegedly raped by her mistress, according to a history professor I had in college.

gytalf2000
10-27-2007, 11:49 AM
Oh, and I meant to say, I've recently read Time on the Cross, an economic treatment of southern American slavery.
It appears that male slaveholders engage in marital relations with their property was a poor labor relations practice likely to result in substantial expense to the slaveholder including lost production and increased management effort.
As such, the number of slaveholders engaging in this behavior was startlingly low: I believe I saw 2%, although I may have seen 0.2%.


Oh, I had no idea that the numbers were that low!

Mr. Slant
10-27-2007, 12:17 PM
It is certainly outside of the bounds that most people expected.
In the book, Fogel repeatedly makes the point that both abolitionists and their opponents worked hard to distort the truth for propaganda reasons, and as such our collective historical beliefs about slavery are pretty far from the mark.
If you really want your mind blown, check out the part of the book where Fogel mentions annual and periodic cash bonuses given to slave families for good performance on some plantations.

Maastricht
10-27-2007, 12:20 PM
I've got no factual data, but this thread reminded me of a remarkable well played 1998 BBC TV mini-series: A Respectable Trade. (http://www.imdb.com/title/tt0154083/). It's about a pennyless but well bred young lady in the late 1780's in Bristol, who marries a boorish but wealthy slavetrader looking to climb the social ladder. He asks his wife to educate some of the slaves, so they will fetch higher prices as salon-level servants. Of course, the wife falls in love with one of the slaves, a young African man who was something of a shaman in his own community.
I won't spoil the ending, but I highly recommend watching it.

ElvisL1ves
10-27-2007, 12:54 PM
It appears that male slaveholders engage in marital relations with their property was a poor labor relations practice likely to result in substantial expense to the slaveholder including lost production and increased management effort.Not the sort of considerations typically uppermost in the mind of a guy looking to get his load off.

As such, the number of slaveholders engaging in this behavior was startlingly low: I believe I saw 2%, although I may have seen 0.2%.The range and distribution of skin color among African-Americans compared to native Africans does not seem consistent with a number so low. Do you recall what sort of methodology was used?

Mr. Slant
10-27-2007, 01:22 PM
I just pulled the book out and reviewed the relevant section.
Evidence consulted included WPA surveys of former slaves, census data on 'mulattoes' and genetics research.
I'd need to research Fogel & Engerman's cites in order to arrive at my own conclusions on this, which is something I don't have time to do.

I have some thoughts on why American blacks look the way they do, if the 1-2% figure is correct, but sharing those could steer this thread straight into The Pit.

Mijin
10-27-2007, 02:03 PM
If you really want your mind blown, check out the part of the book where Fogel mentions annual and periodic cash bonuses given to slave families for good performance on some plantations.

Yep, you could really make a good living on the plantations. That's why all the slaves were actually there by personal volition :rolleyes:

I understand what you're saying: that not all slave-owners were bad. And I'm sure they weren't; but this is hardly mind-blowing.
The fact that you've said "If you really want your mind blown..." implies to me that I'm supposed to take from this that slavery "wasn't so bad after all".

Mr. Slant
10-27-2007, 02:18 PM
You're misreading me.
I said, "If you really want your mind blown, check out the part of the book where Fogel mentions annual and periodic cash bonuses given to slave families for good performance on some plantations."

I didn't say the existence of annual and periodic cash bonuses would blow your mind.
I said that reading that part of the book would blow your mind.
I've made no remarks at all on the ethics of the matter, nor do I concern myself with such.
My interest in the subject is in the economics, not the ethics.
Hardly sporting to argue about the ethics of slaveholding, is it?

Mijin
10-27-2007, 07:48 PM
You're misreading me.
...
I didn't say the existence of annual and periodic cash bonuses would blow your mind.
I said that reading that part of the book would blow your mind.


Let's recap:

1. This is a thread about female plantation owners having affairs with slaves, nobody's talking about economics.

2. In your post you say that the truth about slavery has often been distorted for propaganda reasons, and then (in reference to the aforementioned book) go on to say "If you really want your mind blown, check out the part of the book where Fogel mentions annual and periodic cash bonuses given to slave families for good performance on some plantations".

3. I don't know what's so special about this part of the book. You didn't say.
But from the context, the implication is obvious: maybe being a slave wasn't so bad after all.

4. After pointing out the implication (and calling it such), you protest that that's not what you meant.

5. What did you mean?

Mijin
10-27-2007, 08:02 PM
1. This is a thread about female plantation owners having affairs with slaves, nobody's talking about economics.


Doh! OK, so the book in question is about the economics of the slave trade. :smack:

Now I'm realising that perhaps your implication was just that it is a surprising thing that slave owners would ever do something like pay bonuses. It wasn't obvious to me before because the thread is not economic in nature.

Sorry, and please ignore my previous post.

Mr. Slant
10-27-2007, 09:10 PM
If that's an apology, it's accepted and followed by an apology by me for mucky writing with poor framing of context.

Spoke
10-28-2007, 10:21 AM
My educated guess would be that sexual relationships between white females and slaves produced a lot of false rape accusations. The scenario:

White lady is having consensual sex with Slave A. She misses her period, and panics, wondering how she will explain her situation. She addresses her problem by accusing Slave B of rape.

Bearflag70
10-28-2007, 10:36 AM
I don't understand how the old system worked. A slave was not considered a human, but rather simply a chattel, thus justifying treatment as a slave and denial of rights? Therefore, a slave cannot commit "human" crimes, right? A dog cannot be guilty of rape. Did slaves get court trials (I realize the practical answer is no, but what's the legal answer?)

Mr. Slant
10-28-2007, 10:47 AM
It appears that slaves were eligible for the attentions of the white man's law and lawmen.
Cite:
http://www.dinsdoc.com/goodell-1-2-5.htm
Here's a snippet:
" In Tennessee, the sheriff is empowered to make selection of “three justices to preside on the trial, and twelve housekeepers being SLAVEHOLDERS to serve as a jury” !!! (Tennessee Laws of 1819, chap. 35.) By a modification of this law in 1831, “Householders may serve as jurors, if slaveholders cannot be had”! (Child’s Appeal, p. 70.)

“In 1832, thirty-five slaves were executed in Charleston, in pursuance of the sentence of a Court consisting of two justices and five freeholders, on charge of an intended insurrection. No indictments, no summoning of jurors, no challenges for cause or favor, no seclusion of the triers from intercourse with those who might bias their judgment, preceded this unparalleled destruction of human life.” (Jay’s Inquiry, p. 135.)

Though no colored person, bond or free, can testify in any case where any white person is concerned, yet the evidence of “all free Indians without oath, and of any slave without oath,” may be taken for or against a slave! And among the “meritorious services” for which freedom is conferred, the most important is “information of crimes committed by a slave.” What a temptation for one slave to bear false testimony against another! See Stroud’s Sketch, p. 126, where the authorities are cited for several States where this law prevails, viz: South Carolina, Virginia, North Carolina, Tennessee, Kentucky, and Mississippi; with conditions, in Georgia and Louisiana."

I'll remind non-US dopers that criminal law is usually a matter of individual state choice rather than that of the federal government. As such, the law of this matter is likely to have varied somewhat between the various states that permitted slaveholding.

even sven
10-29-2007, 05:01 AM
My educated guess would be that sexual relationships between white females and slaves produced a lot of false rape accusations. The scenario:

White lady is having consensual sex with Slave A. She misses her period, and panics, wondering how she will explain her situation. She addresses her problem by accusing Slave B of rape.

I think we have a winner. This was SOP for white women getting caught in illicit relations with black men for ages- hell, happens plenty today. I don't think it'd be different in the days of slavery.

BwanaBob
10-29-2007, 09:20 AM
Isn't there a documentary called Mandingo (http://www.imdb.com/title/tt0073349/) about this very issue? :)

Documentary? You just made me spit out my coffee! :D
One of the most fucked up movies ever made.

zahara2
10-29-2007, 02:03 PM
I just pulled the book out and reviewed the relevant section.
Evidence consulted included WPA surveys of former slaves, census data on 'mulattoes' and genetics research.
I'd need to research Fogel & Engerman's cites in order to arrive at my own conclusions on this, which is something I don't have time to do.

I have some thoughts on why American blacks look the way they do, if the 1-2% figure is correct, but sharing those could steer this thread straight into The Pit.

I would like to hear your thoughts on this. Please. :D

Mr. Slant
10-29-2007, 02:22 PM
Start another thread, I'll respond this evening.

you with the face
10-29-2007, 02:37 PM
As such, the number of slaveholders engaging in this behavior was startlingly low: I believe I saw 2%, although I may have seen 0.2%.

The numbers I've seen suggest that in rural plantations about 1-2% of the slaves were sired by white daddies. Mind you, these white daddies could be overseers or they could the actual slaveholders. According to census figures, about 25% of urban slaves either had a white parent or white grandparent. Don't know how reliable this cite (http://www.etymonline.com/cw/mulatto.htm) is but the numbers they use are consistent with what I'm familiar with.

But all this data tells us is how many slaves were produced by white men. It doesn't tell us the frequency of "marital relations" between slaveowners and their slaves. I wouldn't be surprised if many slaves aborted their babies or killed them, either at their own direction or the slaveowner's (Because, afterall, what would the neighbors think?)

xxfireangel13xx
10-31-2007, 02:13 PM
My educated guess would be that sexual relationships between white females and slaves produced a lot of false rape accusations. The scenario:

White lady is having consensual sex with Slave A. She misses her period, and panics, wondering how she will explain her situation. She addresses her problem by accusing Slave B of rape.
That's what I would guess happend too.

Freudian Slit
10-31-2007, 02:20 PM
I think we have a winner. This was SOP for white women getting caught in illicit relations with black men for ages- hell, happens plenty today. I don't think it'd be different in the days of slavery.
It happens today, really? Don't white women have, at least, the option of abortion today?

Cat Fight
10-31-2007, 03:26 PM
My educated guess would be that sexual relationships between white females and slaves produced a lot of false rape accusations. The scenario:

White lady is having consensual sex with Slave A. She misses her period, and panics, wondering how she will explain her situation. She addresses her problem by accusing Slave B of rape.

I'd say that's a good educated guess, as it wasn't unheard of post-slavery, pre-civil rights. Or she admitted to the affair, but her family quickly silenced her and got to some old fashioned abortioning if she was knocked up.