‘These Negroes Are All the Property She Has’: White Slaveowning Women and the Pecuniary Destruction of Civil War

The Civil War was a personal battle, one that white slave-owning women took on to ensure their continued financial autonomy and survival.

Lecture Description

Historians have examined the profound effects that the contingencies of battle had upon white southern women’s daily lives in the Civil War era, and they have chronicled these women’s responses to the economic shifts that the war wrought. But few have explored the particular ways that the war impacted women who owned enslaved people. This presentation shows that, for white slave-owning women, who frequently owned more slaves than land, the Civil War was a pecuniary battle that they fought because they wanted to preserve their investments in an economy and a way of life that was predicated upon the ownership of African-Americans and unfettered access to their labor. Emancipation, and the subsequent de-commodification of black people, robbed these slave-owning women of their primary source of wealth and made them economically dependent on others in ways they abhorred. More profoundly, white slave-owning women wrestled with the implications and consequences of emancipation in ways that had tremendous and traumatic consequences upon African-American lives.


African American Slavery

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Stephanie E. Jones-Rogers

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