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AfriGeneas Slave Research Forum Archive

Re: Slave research Forum -no owners

To The Slave Forum Webmaster, Tom Blake and Others:

I prefer using those terms that are most accurately descriptive of the horrific system of chattel slavery when that is the system of slavery under discussion and research. We need to distinguish between "freehold" slavery and "chattel slavery". In other forms of slavery perhaps, there may have been "slaveholders" who were only entitled to the services of the "enslaved" persons. Not so under the chattel slave system that victimized my slave ancestors and that operated under the protection of the laws of these United States of America. "Chattel slavery is a uniquely North American creation and attached the slave to his master as personal property, transferable at will." See "Rice and Slaves" by Daniel C. Littlefield, footnote 3, page 2. All of the slavery documents that I possess on my slave ancestors make it clear they were "owned" as well as held in captivity.

In the USA, as "legal entities", our slave ancestors were personal property - "legally" sold, bought, traded, assigned, used as collateral, conveyed, deeded, inventoried and bequeathed - branded with all the indicia of "ownership" like any other property. Why should I agree to a proposal that would euphemistically dilute such an inhumane system? Historically speaking, our ancestors were considered "chattel slaves" who were "owned" by the slaveowners. While I would prefer that my flesh and blood not be considered as "owned" slaves...the well documented evidence demonstrates that is how they were legally defined and historically treated. I question the rationale for proposing that new descriptors be applied to this inhumane system. To suggest that a slave was merely "held" rather than "owned" gives a remote observer the impression that the slave possessed the key to his or her own freedom when we know such was not the case. I believe that the consequence of endorsing such a proposal would be that over the next generation the horrors of chattel slavery may be "watered down" to such an extent that the "history of enslavement of Africans" in this country will become a much more pallatable and socially acceptable concept. Little credence would be given to the scarred psyche of this country that remains the legacy of that most heinous system of chattel slavery.

My response to your proposal, Tom, is No! No! No!


18 Dec 2002 :: 14 Nov 2008
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