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AfriGeneas Slave Research Forum

Re: Growth in Slave Population, 1810-1860

Hello David:

The rise in the number of slaves after 1810 had all to do with the history of America and little to do with laws against the importation of slaves. The vast territories that were part of the Louisiana Purchase included a large number of slave owning citizens. Although the Louisiana Purchase was in 1803, it took time to organize these new states, and reporting the number of slaves may not have been an important priority . Part of West Florida included what we now call Louisiana’s "Florida Parishes". The National Park Services describes this slave owning area:

“When Napoleon Bonaparte sold Louisiana to the United States in 1803, the Americans claimed the area as part of that purchase but made no move to occupy it. In 1810 the district's largely English population revolted against Spain and the U.S. annexed the territory. Spain protested the annexation, but was too weak to fight it. Louisianians have called the region the Florida Parishes ever since.”

The unrest in the Haiti (St. Domingue) brought waves of whites, free people of color and their slaves to the Gulf Coast states mainly Louisiana and to Charleston. In 1821, East and West Florida became the territory of Florida.

The link below will take you to Common –Place and an article written by Roger Kennedy. Although his research is on The Louisiana Purchase, he discusses other states that joined the US and their connection to slavery. Please search this site for some interesting essays on slavery.

I can't speak to the census issues of the Upper South, but historians of the Lower South such as Gwen-Midlo Hall, William Coker have noted that the 1790 census and I suspect the 1810 census often under-represented blacks and free people of color in their census. Free People of Color notes MIdlo-Hall were often catagorized as white in the 1790 census. She cautions us not to take the census (under Spanish rule) at face value.

My suggestion is to research the states that were part of the US in 1810 and compare them to 1860.

Even with the acquisition of slave owning states, it’s interesting to note that on the eve of the Civil War one out of ten African Americans were free.

Good Luck,

K Wyer Lane

18 Dec 2002 :: 14 Nov 2008
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