She’s Breeding Age: Dehumanizing Price For Getting Pregnant During Slavery

4 Posted by - May 2, 2018 - BLACK WOMEN, LATEST POSTS, SLAVERY

Most people know of slavery, but we don’t know about slavery. Specifically, we don’t know how dehumanizing it was to be a slave.

We might understand what it’s like to be denied freedom or dignity at an intellectual level. But for many of us, we don’t have a grasp on how horrible the institution was, in the day to day life of an enslaved person. Most of us don’t “get” what it was about inhuman bondage that made it so inhuman.

For example: what was it like to be slave mother?

Some insights on this are given in the book [easyazon_link identifier=”0674034929″ locale=”US” tag=”trehottop-20″]Birthing a Slave: Motherhood and Medicine in the Antebellum South[/easyazon_link], by Marie Jenkins Schwartz. The book tells the history of a somewhat esoteric subject: the need of slaveholders, and the doctors they hired, to control and manage the bodies and reproductive lives of slave women.

But while the subject is esoteric, the details of how this played out in plantation life are chilling and disturbing.

The first chapter of the book, titled “Procreation,” has a gripping account of the stakes involved in the reproductive ability of slave women. I’ve provided some excerpts from that chapter below. Upon reading this, you will understand how lacking in humanity and dignity this peculiar institution was:

…an important aspect of slavery… has been all too often ignored: slaveholders expected to appropriate and exploit the reproductive lives of enslaved women. Control of one’s body was not a fundamental right of slaves. Emboldened by law and custom to do with human chattels as they wished, (slave) owners felt entitled to intervene in even the most intimate of matters. Women’s childbearing capacity became a commodity that could be traded on the open market.

During the antebellum era the expectation increased among members of the owning class that enslaved women would contribute to the economic success of the plantation not only through productive labor but also through procreation. The idea was at once both powerful and seductive and shaped the way women experienced enslavement, the way owners thought about the future of slavery, and the way doctors practiced medicine.

As of 1808, when Congress ended the nation’s participation in the international slave trade… the only practical way of increasing the number of slave laborers was through new births. If enslaved mothers did not bear sufficient numbers of children to take the place of aged and dying workers, the South could not continue as a slave society.
***

Women entering their childbearing years-especially those who had proven their fertility through the birth of a baby-sold easily and for a high price. Former slave Boston Blackwell, who witnessed the sale of two women in Memphis, Tennessee, reported that a girl of fifteen who had no children sold for $800, but a breeding woman sold for $1,500.

Human reproduction was so important to the continuation of slavery that members of the South’s ruling class willed their heirs the unborn children of slaves as well as living people. Anna Matilda King of Georgia assured her daughter that she would inherit not only the slave Christiann but also “her child and future children.” This wish to benefit future generations of slaveholding families pressed owners to look for ways of ensuring that enslaved mothers bore plenty of children. “If it was not for my children I would not care what became of the negroes,” Elizabeth Scott Neblett wrote her absent husband during the Civil War… Neblett maintained that she would gladly do without slaves to save the bother of managing them, but for her children’s sake she could not let them go.
***

Southern slaveholders’ perceived need for additional slaves did not play out solely as abstract political or economic rhetoric. It helped to justify the increased emphasis on the birth of children in the slave quarters. Every woman of appropriate age needed to bear children. Women who did not readily become mothers were subjected to scrutiny and possible action.

Purchases of slaves could be calculated to ensure that a planter had a sufficient number of women “of breeding age” and that each woman had a suitable sexual partner at hand. After purchasing Fanny from Virginia and Jim from Louisiana, Mississippi master Bill Gordon arranged for them to live together, which they did. Georgia slaveholder David Ferguson purchased Jacob Gilbert specifically as a husband for an enslaved woman.

Rewards for motherhood followed the birth of children. These included “extra clothing,” exemption from harsh treatment, even (rarely) freedom. Lula Cottonham Walker had to work hard as a slave in Alabama, according to her later testimony, but the mother of eight children was never beaten. If the master had a sow that gave birth to a litter of pigs each year, he would not take a stick and beat it. It was the same with slaves, she offered by way of explanation.
***

Barren women were a cause of concern.

Childless women could not expect any of the rewards or concessions available to mothers. Their work regimens were similar to those of men. Mary Buford did the same work as the men on her Arkansas plantation because, according to her niece, “she wasn’t no multiplying woman.” The disparity between men’s work and women’s work could be considerable. On the Bertrand estate in Jefferson County, Arkansas, the men were expected to pick 300 pounds of cotton, women 200. Childless women could be pressed to do as much as a man.

There were other repercussions for barrenness. Young women who had not demonstrated fertility faced the possibility of separation from family… If a married couple lived together for long without having a baby, North Carolina planter Joe Fevors Cutt would force both husband and wife to choose new partners. Former slave Henry Bobbitt maintained that many marriages did not last longer than five years because if no children were born within that period, husbands and wives were expected to find other spouses.

More commonly, childless women were sold. If a woman did not “breed,” in the parlance of the slaveholder, she was put on the market… “You better have them whitefolks some babies iffen you didn’t wanta be sold,” former Tennessee slave Alice Douglass recalled. Mary Grayson, enslaved in the Oklahoma territory, was sold twice for infertility.

The emotional pain of losing family members in this way is impossible for postslavery generations to fathom. Marriages were broken up, siblings split apart, older children separated from parents. Much of the selling occurred in states of the upper South, where there was a surplus of labor.

In the South, rhetoric surrounding barrenness took a peculiar turn. The focus was on enslaved women in general and on the reproductive history of specific women. The topic came up in everyday conversations related to the profitability of plantations, the management of labor, and the monetary worth of individual slaves.

 

Read More At https://jubiloemancipationcentury.wordpress.com/2011/01/16/birthing-a-slave-reproduction-and-inhumanity-during-americas-slavery-era/

 

68 Comments

  • Rebeca January 5, 2016 - 2:19 am Reply

    Lours of information missing, but it made it’s point. For example, the slave masters had no need to demand black make and female relationships. They themselves would ensure the reproduction of the females. If where going to speak about bkack wonens bodies back then, then let’s tell the whole story. They were not just there to breed, but as sexual objects. The white slave masters, married or not. Would choose sometimes multiple black women to use. They would even attempt to have ‘relationships’ with these women. As we know you can’t have a relationship with a slsve.

  • Al Grayson September 19, 2017 - 8:54 pm Reply

    Where did Mary Grayson’s surname come from?
    One of my sisters was shopping in Delbridge’s grocery store in Murfreesboro, Tn. probably 50 years ago. She overheard a checker address a woman as “Mrs. Grayson.” She struck up a conversation with Mrs. Grayson. In the conversation she asked what Graysons her husband’s family was. The woman responded that she supposed that he was descended from slaves on a Grayson plantation. My sister was shocked, responding that she hadn’t noticed that Mrs. Grayson was black, apologizing for being offensive. The woman said, “I guess it all depends on who owned who.”

  • fred September 29, 2017 - 1:43 am Reply

    There are true stories of white females having black babies and the child sold into slavery

  • How to ID a TERF – Radical Analysis March 31, 2019 - 9:24 pm Reply

    […] hence produce more slaves. It was female slaves who were the ones used for sexual purposes and has a higher price for them if they could be used for ‘breeding’ […]

  • kartal escort April 8, 2019 - 5:51 pm Reply

    You could certainly see your expertise within the work you
    write. The world hopes for more passionate writers like you who are not afraid to mention how they believe.

    All the time follow your heart.
    istanbul escort
    şirinevler escort
    taksim escort
    mecidiyeköy escort
    şişli escort
    istanbul escort
    kartal escort
    pendik escort
    tuzla escort
    kurtköy escort

  • p109 April 13, 2019 - 12:28 am Reply

    What’s up, yup this paragraph is really pleasant and I have learned lot of things from it on the topic of blogging.

    thanks.

  • arnavutköy masaj salonları April 24, 2019 - 3:54 pm Reply

    Hello, I want to subscribe for this web site to take latest updates, so where can i
    do it please help.
    istanbul escort
    şirinevler escort
    taksim escort
    mecidiyeköy escort
    şişli escort

  • beşiktaş masaj April 26, 2019 - 3:38 am Reply

    You’re so interesting! I do not think I have read anything like this before.

    So wonderful to find somebody with unique thoughts on this topic.
    Seriously.. thank you for starting this up.
    This web site is one thing that is needed on the web, someone with a little originality!

    istanbul escort
    şirinevler escort
    taksim escort
    mecidiyeköy escort
    şişli escort

  • bağcılar mutlu son April 27, 2019 - 3:38 pm Reply

    What’s up to all, since I am actually eager of reading this blog’s post to be updated regularly.
    It includes good material.
    istanbul escort
    şirinevler escort
    taksim escort
    mecidiyeköy escort
    şişli escort

  • küçükbakkalköy escort April 28, 2019 - 9:26 am Reply

    I’ve been browsing online more than 2 hours today,
    yet I never found any interesting article like yours.

    It’s pretty worth enough for me. Personally, if all webmasters and bloggers made good content as you did, the web will be much more useful than ever before.

    istanbul escort
    şirinevler escort
    taksim escort
    mecidiyeköy escort
    şişli escort

  • Antika Alanlar April 29, 2019 - 8:02 am Reply

    Antika Ürün, Alım satan yapımı firmadır. Antika Eşyalarınız Değerinin üzerinde Nakit Fiyatlarla Alım Yapmaktadır.

  • p26274 May 2, 2019 - 9:13 am Reply

    Hi! I just wanted to ask if you ever have any issues with hackers?

    My last blog (wordpress) was hacked and I ended up
    losing several weeks of hard work due to no data backup.
    Do you have any solutions to stop hackers?

  • gamefly free trial May 6, 2019 - 12:07 am Reply

    What a stuff of un-ambiguity and preserveness of valuable experience about unexpected emotions.

  • antika eşya alanlar May 8, 2019 - 12:40 am Reply

    antika eşya alanlar firmasıdır.

  • download minecraft for free May 9, 2019 - 5:47 pm Reply

    What’s up, all the time i used to check webpage posts
    here in the early hours in the daylight, because i love
    to gain knowledge of more and more.

  • escort kızıltoprak May 11, 2019 - 2:36 am Reply

    Hello my family member! I wish to say that this article is amazing,
    nice written and come with approximately all significant infos.
    I would like to see more posts like this .

  • g May 12, 2019 - 10:44 am Reply

    Wonderful beat ! I would like to apprentice while you amend your
    web site, how can i subscribe for a blog web site? The account helped me a acceptable deal.
    I had been a little bit acquainted of this your broadcast provided bright clear idea

  • free gg hack May 15, 2019 - 2:47 pm Reply

    Intresting, will come back here once in a while.

  • download minecraft pc May 15, 2019 - 6:36 pm Reply

    Keep this going please, great job!

  • krunker hacks May 16, 2019 - 5:46 am Reply

    You got yourself a new rader.

  • aimbot fortnite May 16, 2019 - 9:40 am Reply

    I like this site because so much useful stuff on here : D.

  • nonsense diamond 1.9 May 16, 2019 - 11:57 pm Reply

    Just wanna input on few general things, The website layout is perfect, the articles is very superb : D.

  • fallout 76 hacks May 17, 2019 - 3:20 am Reply

    I was looking at some of your articles on this site and I believe this internet site is really instructive! Keep on posting .

  • I was looking at some of your articles on this site and I believe this internet site is really instructive! Keep on posting .

  • redline v3.0 May 17, 2019 - 11:35 am Reply

    Respect to website author , some wonderful entropy.

  • badoo superpowers free May 18, 2019 - 1:00 am Reply

    Thanks for this web. I definitely agree with what you are saying.

  • forza horizon 4 license key May 18, 2019 - 7:52 am Reply

    very cool post, i actually enjoyed this web site, carry on it

  • mining simulator 2019 May 18, 2019 - 11:55 pm Reply

    yahoo brought me here. Cheers!

  • smutstone May 20, 2019 - 4:34 am Reply

    I love reading through and I believe this website got some genuinely utilitarian stuff on it! .

  • redline v3.0 May 21, 2019 - 12:05 am Reply

    Thanks for this web. I definitely agree with what you are saying.

  • Yeah bookmaking this wasn’t a risky decision outstanding post! .

  • pid55397 May 22, 2019 - 8:42 am Reply

    First of all I want to say great blog! I had a quick question which I’d
    like to ask if you do not mind. I was curious to find out how you center yourself and clear your
    head prior to writing. I have had a difficult time clearing
    my thoughts in getting my ideas out there. I do take pleasure in writing however it just seems like
    the first 10 to 15 minutes are wasted simply just trying to
    figure out how to begin. Any recommendations or tips? Appreciate it!

  • nonsense diamond May 22, 2019 - 11:17 am Reply

    I simply must tell you that you have an excellent and unique post that I really enjoyed reading.

  • krunker aimbot May 22, 2019 - 11:36 pm Reply

    I really got into this site. I found it to be interesting and loaded with unique points of interest.

  • Awesome, this is what I was looking for in google

  • vn hax May 23, 2019 - 12:01 pm Reply

    Very interesting points you have remarked, appreciate it for putting up.

  • eternity.cc v9 May 24, 2019 - 12:47 am Reply

    stays on topic and states valid points. Thank you.

  • ispoofer pogo activate seriale May 24, 2019 - 11:14 am Reply

    This is awesome!

  • Long Whitledge May 25, 2019 - 8:00 am Reply

    Visit https://www.facebook.com/HeroWarsGiftCode/ for latest hero wars gift codes.

  • cheats for hempire game May 25, 2019 - 11:14 pm Reply

    I like this page, useful stuff on here : D.

  • iobit uninstaller 7.5 key May 26, 2019 - 1:58 am Reply

    I like this site, some useful stuff on here : D.

  • smart defrag 6.2 serial key May 26, 2019 - 8:32 am Reply

    This is awesome!

  • resetter epson l1110 May 26, 2019 - 11:20 am Reply

    Good, this is what I was searching for in google

  • sims 4 seasons free code May 27, 2019 - 12:37 am Reply

    Found this on yahoo and I’m happy I did. Well written site.

  • Anibal Tata May 27, 2019 - 8:47 pm Reply

    Good post. Thanks.

  • strucid hacks May 28, 2019 - 3:19 am Reply

    Great read to check out, glad that bing took me here, Keep Up good job

  • expressvpn key May 28, 2019 - 12:21 pm Reply

    google took me here. Thanks!

  • ispoofer pokemon go license key May 29, 2019 - 1:42 am Reply

    Deference to op , some superb selective information .

  • aimbot free download fortnite May 29, 2019 - 5:42 am Reply

    Very interesting points you have remarked, appreciate it for putting up.

  • redline v3.0 May 29, 2019 - 10:07 am Reply

    Great article to check out, glad that bing brought me here, Keep Up nice Work

  • vn hax May 29, 2019 - 11:26 pm Reply

    I’m impressed, I have to admit. Genuinely rarely should i encounter a weblog that’s both educative and entertaining, and let me tell you, you may have hit the nail about the head. Your idea is outstanding; the problem is an element that insufficient persons are speaking intelligently about. I am delighted we came across this during my look for something with this.

  • gamefly free trial May 30, 2019 - 7:44 am Reply

    May I just say what a relief to uncover somebody that actually
    understands what they’re talking about online. You certainly realize how to bring a problem to
    light and make it important. More and more people ought to read this
    and understand this side of your story. I can’t believe you
    aren’t more popular because you surely have the gift.

  • Kalkulator-kredytowy2 May 30, 2019 - 1:44 pm Reply

    Simply desire to say your article is as amazing.
    The clarity for your submit is simply great and that i can suppose you’re a
    professional in this subject. Fine with your permission allow me to grab your
    RSS feed to keep up to date with coming near near post.
    Thanks a million and please carry on the rewarding work.

  • xbox one mods free download May 31, 2019 - 5:57 am Reply

    Just wanna input on few general things, The website layout is perfect, the articles is very superb : D.

  • fortnite aimbot download May 31, 2019 - 8:39 am Reply

    Great, yahoo took me stright here. thanks btw for post. Cheers!

  • mpl pro June 1, 2019 - 11:14 am Reply

    Yeah bookmaking this wasn’t a risky decision outstanding post! .

  • hacks counter blox script June 1, 2019 - 11:26 pm Reply

    I must say, as a lot as I enjoyed reading what you had to say, I couldnt help but lose interest after a while.

  • escort bayan June 2, 2019 - 3:37 pm Reply

    Do you have a spam issue on this site; I also am a blogger,
    and I was curious about your situation; we have developed some
    nice practices and we are looking to swap strategies with others,
    why not shoot me an e-mail if interested.

  • how to hacking fortnite June 3, 2019 - 3:15 am Reply

    I simply must tell you that you have an excellent and unique web that I must say enjoyed reading.

  • gamefly free trial June 3, 2019 - 4:50 pm Reply

    Asking questions are really fastidious thing if you are
    not understanding anything entirely, but this piece of writing
    presents fastidious understanding yet.

  • 100870 June 5, 2019 - 10:22 am Reply

    Good post. I learn something totally new and challenging on sites I stumbleupon on a daily basis.

    It’s always useful to read through articles from other writers and use a little something from other web sites.

  • gamefly free trial June 6, 2019 - 3:30 am Reply

    I’ll right away grasp your rss as I can not in finding your email
    subscription hyperlink or e-newsletter service.
    Do you have any? Please permit me recognize in order
    that I could subscribe. Thanks.

  • gamefly free trial June 7, 2019 - 3:48 pm Reply

    Very great post. I simply stumbled upon your blog
    and wanted to mention that I’ve really enjoyed browsing your
    blog posts. After all I’ll be subscribing to your feed and I
    hope you write again soon!

  • Randglync June 10, 2019 - 4:43 pm Reply

    Amoxicillin Cold Medication Viagra Ne Shqip viagra Can I Buy Alli In Canada Buy Azitromyicin 20 Mg Cialis Side Effects

  • ปั้มไลค์ June 13, 2019 - 11:01 am Reply

    Like!! Really appreciate you sharing this blog post.Really thank you! Keep writing.

  • Mua hang My June 14, 2019 - 4:21 am Reply
  • roblox executor June 17, 2019 - 10:46 am Reply

    I truly enjoy looking through on this web site , it holds superb content .

  • Leave a reply