The Breeding of American Slaves.
True Stories of American Slave Breeding and Slave Babies.
Recollections of American ex-slaves and their memories of breeding and babies.
Slave breeding in the United States were those practices of slave ownership that aimed to influence the reproduction of slaves in order to increase the wealth of slaveholders.
Slave breeding included coerced sexual relations between male and female slaves, promoting pregnancies of slaves, sexual relations between master and slave with the aim of producing slave children, and favoring female slaves who produced a relatively large number of children.
The purpose of slave breeding was to produce new slaves without incurring the cost of purchase, to fill labor shortages caused by the termination of the Atlantic slave trade, and to attempt to improve the health and productivity of slaves. Slave breeding was condoned in the South because slaves were considered to be subhuman chattel, and were not entitled to the same rights accorded to free persons.
“My grandfather on my father’s side, Luke Blackshear, was a ‘stock’ Negro.
“Isom Blackshear, his son, was a great talker. He said Luke was six feet four inches tall and near two hundred fifty pounds in weight. He was what they called a double-jointed man. He was a mechanic,—built houses, made keys, and did all other blacksmith work and shoemaking.
He did anything in iron, wood or leather. Really he was an architect as well. He could take raw cowhide and make leather out of it and then make shoes out of the leather.
“Luke was the father of fifty-six children and was known as the GIANT BREEDER. He was bought and given to his young mistress in the same way you would give a mule or colt to a child.
“Although he was a stock Negro, he was whipped and drove just like the other Negroes. All of the other Negroes were driven on the farm. He had to labor but he didn’t have to work with the other slaves on the farm unless there was no mechanical work to do.
He was given better work because he was a skilled mechanic. He taught Isom blacksmithing, brickmaking and bricklaying, shoemaking, carpentry, and other things. The ordinary blacksmith has to order plow points and put than on, but Luke made the points themselves, and he taught Isom to do it. And he taught him to make mats, chairs, and other weaving work. He died sometime before the War.”
Ida Blackshear Hutchinson, 2620 Orange Street, North Little Rock, Arkansas
Age: 73 at time of interview
This book is researched from the Slave Narratives that were collected in the 1930s as part of the Federal Writers' Project of the Works Progress Administration (WPA) and assembled and microfilmed in 1941 as the seventeen-volume Slave Narratives: A Folk History of Slavery in the United States from Interviews with Former Slaves.
What you read is exactly how the researchers heard their stories for the first time, transcribed on the spot from the actual interviews. A must read for every American.
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