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One of the evidences for the fact that the enslaved people usually only sought the emancipation of their own selves and that of their families and not the whole class of Black people is the existence of Freedmen who went on to own fellow-blacks as slaves[1].

Some Black people who had managed to gain wealth owned large numbers of slaves. William Ellison of South Carolina for example, owned a total of 63 slaves when he died in 1861, he used the same oppressive practices on his slaves that white slave owners did, destroying slave families by selling off young children and hiring slave hunters to catch runaway slaves[2].

The Lack of Objection to Slavery in African Culture and that of the American South

The enslaved African people themselves belonged to a culture where rival tribes would commonly seek collaboration with slave traders in their tribal wars against one another[3]. In the new world, the enslaved people were similarly unlikely to come across anti-slavery sentiments, in the Christian culture of the American South, the usual interpretation of Christian texts not only allowed slavery but also obliged slaves to be dutiful toward their masters and obey their orders diligently or otherwise face the wrath of God[4]. Thus it was not likely for enslaved Black people to come across any ideology that provided a basis for them to demand an end to the institution of slavery.


[1] Matlock, G. D. “When Negroes Owned Slaves.” Negro Digest, March 1963: 72-82.

[2] Rodriguez, J. P. Slavery in the United States; a social, political, and historical encyclopedia. Vol. 2. Santa Barbara, CA: ABC-CLIO, 2007.

[3] Manning, P. Slavery and African life: occidental, oriental, and African slave trades. Cambridge, UK: Cambridge University Press, 1990.

[4] Jacobs, H. “Incidents in the Life of a Slave Girl: Written by Herself.” In Voices of a people’s history of the United States, by H. Zinn and A. Arnove, 171-173. New York, NY: Seven Stories Press, 1861.

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