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They Were Her Property: White Women as Slave Owners in the American South (LA Times Book Prize Winner)

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Winner of the Los Angeles Times Book Prize in History: a bold and searing investigation into the role of white women in the American slave economy

“Stunning.”—Rebecca Onion, Slate

“Makes a vital contribution to our understanding of our past and present.”—Parul Sehgal, New York Times

“Bracingly revisionist. . . . [A] startling corrective.”—Nicholas Guyatt, New York Review of Books

Bridging women’s history, the history of the South, and African American history, this book makes a bold argument about the role of white women in American slavery. Historian Stephanie E. Jones-Rogers draws on a variety of sources to show that slave‑owning women were sophisticated economic actors who directly engaged in and benefited from the South’s slave market. Because women typically inherited more slaves than land, enslaved people were often their primary source of wealth. Not only did white women often refuse to cede ownership of their slaves to their husbands, they employed management techniques that were as effective and brutal as those used by slave‑owning men. White women actively participated in the slave market, profited from it, and used it for economic and social empowerment. By examining the economically entangled lives of enslaved people and slave‑owning women, Jones-Rogers presents a narrative that forces us to rethink the economics and social conventions of slaveholding America.

ISBN-13: 9780300251838

Media Type: Paperback

Publisher: Yale University Press

Publication Date: 01-07-2020

Pages: 320

Product Dimensions: 5.90(w) x 8.60(h) x 1.00(d)

Stephanie E. Jones-Rogers is associate professor of history at the University of California, Berkeley. She is the winner of the 2013 Lerner-Scott Prize for best doctoral dissertation in U.S. women’s history.

Table of Contents

Introduction: Mistresses of the Market ix

1 Mistresses in the Making 1

2 "I Belong to de Mistis" 25

3 "Missus Done Her Own Bossing" 57

4 "She Thought She Could Find a Better Market" 81

5 "Wet Nurse for Sale or Hire" 101

6 "That 'Oman Took Delight in Sellin' Slaves" 123

7 "Her Slaves Have Been Liberated and Lost to Her" 151

8 "A Most Unprecedented Robbery" 181

Epilogue: Lost Kindred, Lost Cause 200

Notes 207

Bibliography 253

Acknowledgments 275

Index 279