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AfriGeneas Slave Research Forum

Re: slaves named in will of President James Monroe


This is indeed very interesting. I have made a copy of your post for my notes on slave names. I wonder if this was unusual in Virginia wills, and if so, what was Monroe's motivation in dignifying his people with surnames? Were these the surnames that the slaves used for themselves (their "entitles" as many termed their surnames), or did Monroe assign these names himself without consultation, based perhaps on the name of a previous owner? Did he intentionally use these names to dignify the folks, or just as a means to more surely identify them [I suspect the former]?

Herbert Gutman ("The Black Family in slavery and Freedom") insists that whites rarely knew slaves had surnames (pp. 230, 237), but Monroe was apparently one of the exceptions.


18 Dec 2002 :: 14 Nov 2008
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