When it comes to African American genealogy, researching the children of breeders requires an understanding of history as well as the practice of enslaved women producing children on a regular basis for the benefit of their enslavers.
When Congress ended the United States’ participation in the international slave trade in 1808, enslavers and would-be-enslavers could no longer import additional slaves from Africa or the West Indies. There was only one practical way of increasing the number of enslaved laborers: through “natural increase”.
By the 1820s, established enslavers and prospective enslavers relocated to places previously unavailable for settlement in large numbers. Places like lands cleared of Native Americans in Georgia. The nascent European and New England textile industries were starting to thrive: an expanding Cotton Kingdom required new laborers. So too did Louisiana’s Sugar Empire. These economic developments needed an increased enslaved labor force. Human beings known as breeders, enslaved men and women, were the answer to forestall any potential shortfall in the labor required to feed these burgeoning industries.
We are taught almost nothing about the breeding farms whose function was to produce as many slaves as possible for sale and distribution throughout the South. Nor are we taught about the practice of encouraging or forcing enslaved women to have a large number of children who were kept within an enslaving family.
In this episode, we talk about how to recognize a breeding farm when reviewing Slave Schedules and other slavery-related business records – and how to formulate a research strategy to research the children of breeders.
Resources referenced in this episode:
American slavery as it is; testimony of a thousand witnesses: https://archive.org/details/americanslaverya00weld/page/182/mode/2up?q=breeding
A History of the Slave-Breeding Industry in the United States:
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