Slave breeding in the United States

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Four generations of slaves on a plantation in South Carolina c. 1862

Slave breeding was long a part of slavery. As in other slave countries, its purpose was to make more slaves. Slave breeding became more important in the United States the 19th century when the Atlantic slave trade ended. As with other commodities, scarcity caused the price of slaves to rise, so more slaves meant more money for their owners.[1] Pregnancy was encouraged. Many slave masters mated with their own slaves to make more slave children.

For some states such as Virginia and North Carolina it was an export industry; they sold slaves to places where the price was higher, such as Alabama and Arkansas. Slave breeders favored woman slaves who could have large numbers of children.[2] As with other livestock, breeders tried to improve the health and productivity of slaves. Breeders were approved in slave states because slaves were considered to be less than human, thus had no human rights. They were livestock, like horses or dogs.

References[change | change source]

  1. Marable, Manning, How capitalism underdeveloped Black America: problems in race, political economy, and society South End Press, 2000, p 72
  2. Marable, ibid, p 72