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cblodg
07-21-2006, 07:25 PM
I have been going through my college notes to try and figure out the percentage of Confederate soldiers who owned slaves.

I've even pulled out my copy of White Over Black by Winthrop Jordan, in trying to find the answer.

Does any one have it off had?

Thanks;

Chris

RJSamp
07-21-2006, 07:57 PM
Well something like less than 5% of the Free population owned slaves.....including whites, Indians, free blacks, Creoles, etc. Don't know if any slaves owned slaves (kind of doubt it).

Your % number has got to be a lot smaller than that.....especially because the numbers would exclude CSA Soldiers whose Daddy owned the slaves.....not the soldier themself....and I would imagine some women owned slaves (maybe their husband was killed in the war.....) and of course they wouldn't have been 'known' soldiers.....

What percentage of CSA soldiers were officers? That might be a good place to start looking for a percentage of soldiers who were slaveowners....

MStuart
07-22-2006, 08:18 AM
What percentage of CSA soldiers were officers? That might be a good place to start looking for a percentage of soldiers who were slaveowners....

I'd think that was the key. Although hardly a scientific theory, I'd bet $$ that the vast majority of soldiers that brought servants with them were officers. Money and pre-war social standing having a good deal to do with it.

Mark

madisontigers
07-22-2006, 10:58 AM
I can remember hearing something like % 90 didn't own slaves, but then again, that's likely to be a reenactor fable.I'd like to conduct research and get an approximate figure though.

indguard
07-22-2006, 12:23 PM
Well, it is easy enough to find out how many people in thw whole country owned slaves by going to the 1860 census on line...

http://fisher.lib.virginia.edu/cgi-local/censusbin/census/cen.pl?year=860


That is a searchable database and you can find the per state slave ownership. From there it would be an interesting thing to note that the army could HARDLY be any higher than the national average, and since many slave owners never went to war, its a good bet that the percentage if far less.

In any case, this would be a starting point.

tompritchett
07-23-2006, 10:49 PM
Well, it is easy enough to find out how many people in thw whole country owned slaves by going to the 1860 census on line...

Several years ago I did just that and loaded the data into a spreadsheet. Basically I found that 30.8% percentage of the families in the Confederate states owned slaves. In addition, 52% of those families owned 5 slaves or less. I posted the results per state several years ago on the forum, but that data is no longer available. Tomorrow I will regenerate that table.

ewtaylor
07-26-2006, 02:36 PM
As you read you will notice the author state more than once it is mostly "guess work".

http://members.aol.com/jfepperson/estimate.html

ew taylor

Bill_Cross
07-26-2006, 04:37 PM
52% of those families owned 5 slaves or less.
I have always marveled at the citing of that figure. It's sorta like saying "the majority of child molesters have molested fewer than five victims."

I have slave-owning ancestors. They lived in Virginia's tobacco country, and gradually worked-out the land. They apparently took several of their house servants to Missouri when they relocated there in the 1830s. When the war broke out, three of them fought for the Confederacy (none for the Union, it was not a "brothers war" in my family).

Slaves were a part of their social and economic order, and the fact that they didn't own "a lot" of them made no real difference from what I can see.

Educators do us a disservice by trying to imply that the South was fighting to perpetuate plantation slavery. Of course, the life of a field hand on a maleria-infested sugar plantation in the deep South was much, much worse than the lot of a "house ######" in Maryland or Delaware. But that doesn't change the fact that it was slavery.

It's perfectly understandable why Southern men would fight for the continuation of a system they aspired to enjoy. After all, many of us play the lottery today because we hope to get rich. And to use another modern example, the widespread, grass roots support for abolishing the Federal estate tax (the so-called "death tax") comes from people who would not be touched by its reach. The result is that it has helped the very rich, yet that support comes from the fact that most of us aspire to be rich, and want to keep as much of our money once we get there as Rockefeller or Mellon or Vanderbilt or Trump.

Southerners had numerous reasons for wanting to keep slavery beside personal aspirations, including a belief that a free society would mean the end of white supremacy, the intermingling of the races, and the decline in wages for free white workers because of black competition.

But to say that most Rebs didn't own slaves tells us something about the cause of the war (the usual reason for the citation) is plain wrong in my opinion.

Rob Weaver
07-27-2006, 08:42 PM
I usually don't wade into the highly heated waters of a discussion on slavery, and I don't think I'm going to say anything inflamatory herein. I believe that you will find the majority of slave-owning Confederate soldiers in the officer ranks, just as in the educated, officer ranks one will find the perpetuation of slavery (or its expansion into the territories) cited as the reason for armed conflict.
Story I found amusing: I was visiting a farm/plantation museum in Virginia a few years ago. During his talk, the docent leading the group talked about how unprofitable the farm was for so many years after the war. It was not my home, so I wisely held my tongue, but inwardly I bet that rising labor costs had to have had some effect on the profit margin. :)

Sgt. Rob Weaver
Pine River Boys
Co I, 7th Wisconsin Volunteers

tompritchett
07-27-2006, 09:38 PM
It was not my home, so I wisely held my tongue, but inwardly I bet that rising labor costs had to have had some effect on the profit margin.

Labor costs associated with sharecropping probably was a major factor but I also wonder about the effect of taxes on land owners that arose during the Reconconstruction.

bob 125th nysvi
07-28-2006, 09:31 PM
"wealth" at the plantation level was more a facade than a reality.

Many of the planters lived on credit based on what the crop was going to be worth. And because the soil was outrageously depleted and they constantly needed new farms they were constantly in a mortage cycle too.

There was also the whole keeping up with the Jones thing.

The whole thing collapsed after the war for two reasons.

1) The value of the cotton crop had dropped immensely verses both the GDP and the value of exports plus foreign sources had found replacement suppliers.

2) The freedmen now insisted on a wage that included a 'profit' on their labors, raising production costs.

It was a lousy ecomonic system that was barely sustaining itself and was rapidly going to die in the face of agricultural mechanization.

The economic damage the war caused was much more than the economic value of the system. And it certainly could not support the building of the south.

The really surprising thing is the large slaveowners got the yeoman farmers to buy into their view of why that particular 'southern' way of life needed to be preserved. It was a system the yeomen really had no use for.

Bob Sandusky
Co C 125th NYSVI
Esperance, NY

Linda Trent
07-28-2006, 10:40 PM
Well, it is easy enough to find out how many people in thw whole country owned slaves by going to the 1860 census on line...
http://fisher.lib.virginia.edu/cgi-local/censusbin/census/cen.pl?year=860

Of course the 1860 census was contested in an article by J.D.B. DeBow, who claimed that there was a greater proportion of slaveholders than the census showed. It's also interesting to note the 10 reasons *The Non-Slaveholders Of the South: [had an] Interest in the Present Sectional Controversy Identical, with that of the Slaveholders.* This was published in his magazine in January 1861. http://members.aol.com/jfepperson/debow.html

Linda.

tompritchett
07-29-2006, 12:04 AM
The actual breakdown by state as recorded is below. The official number of families owning slaves is actually very close to Debow's estimates.


Union States

State Number of Families Number of Slaveholders Percentage of Families
Families Owning Slaves

DE 18,966 587 3.1%
Kansas 21,912 2 0.009%
KY 166,321 38,645 23.2%
MD 110,278 13,783 12.5%
MO 192,073 24,320 12.7%
NEB 5,931 6 0.1%
Total: 515,481 77,343 8.6%

Original 7 States of Confederacy

State Number of Families Number of Slaveholders Percentage of Families
Families Owning Slaves
AL 96,603 33,730 34.9%
FL 15,090 5,152 34.1%
GA 109,919 41,084 37.4%
LA 74,725 22,033 29.5%
MS 63,015 30,943 49.1%
SC 58,642 26,701 45.5%
TX 76,781 21,878 28.5%
Total: 494,775 181,521 37.0%

States that left Union after Lincoln's Call for Militia

State Number of Families Number of Slaveholders Percentage of Families
Families Owning Slaves
ARK 57,244 11,481 20.1%
NC 125,090 34,658 27.7%
TN 149,335 36,844 24.7%
VA 201,523 52,128 25.9%
Total: 533,192 135,111 24.6%

Overall average percentage of families owning slaves in the states in the Confederacy. 30.8%

Total number of slave holding families in the states of the Confederacy 316,632

Bill_Cross
07-31-2006, 10:58 AM
It was a lousy ecomonic system that was barely sustaining itself and was rapidly going to die in the face of agricultural mechanization.
Bob, please support this point with some evidence, as the ground-breaking work by the "econometric" historians of the mid-60s like Robert Fogel would contradict your thesis. Fogel's important book, Time on the Cross, used statistics (what he called "cliometrics") to disprove the myth that slavery would have died out if left alone. Southern apologists have advanced this argument to show themselves as victims of an overeager, aggressive North, when in fact slaves were rising in value before the war.

As to your point about mechanized farming, it did not happen for cotton during the 19th Century; it continued to be picked by hand until the mid-20th Century. Indeed, a mechanical picker wasn't invented until 1948. Mechanization of agriculture on the plains and elsewhere is probably one contributing factor to the South's relative backwardness and poverty after Reconstruction, as the nation's bread basket became wealthy, while cotton continued to be undervalued (especially with competition from foreign producers). Your thesis doesn't seem to apply to an agriculture focused on crops like sugar cane and cotton that required large amounts of cheap labor.

creel
08-01-2006, 06:48 AM
What about the northern interest in the Southern slavery and agriculture?

How did that play into the US economy? IE: shipping (South had very few ships) for exports and imports? Banking (as today NY held a lot of money)?

tompritchett
08-01-2006, 07:51 AM
How did that play into the US economy? IE: shipping (South had very few ships) for exports and imports? Banking (as today NY held a lot of money)?

And to the U.S. government itself. Remember back then, most of the government's income came from duties and tariffs. Because the South's economy was so based upon imports and exports, it ended up provided the majority of the money to support the Federal government. (Just a statement of fact with no further implications.)

ley74
08-03-2006, 10:46 PM
Never mind...

RJSamp
08-04-2006, 09:06 AM
Overall average percentage of families owning slaves in the states in the Confederacy. 30.8%

Total number of slave holding families in the states of the Confederacy 316,632


Tom you are drifting madly from the original question.

1. Familes DID NOT own slaves. Just as families don't own houses. Typically the head of the household might own slaves....and it might be the In Law or Father of the Head of Household. For all we know a 25 year old son in the family might be a slaveowner.....but my guess is that his father (Head of Household) might be the actual owner.

2. Census', including the 1860 census, are by Household, not by Family.....you might have several families/generations living in one house. They may or may not skew your numbers.....but I don't think that the statistical number crunchers you cited made allowances for this....just as they didn't compile a list of Individuals that owned slaves.

BTW I'm an amateur genealogist and have a subscription to every US census image online from 1790 - 1930 and have spent over 100 hours perusing the 1860 Census' alone (the 1850 census is the first By Name census, prior to that it was tallies by head of household by gender by age bracket ....the 1860 census has a ton of information for me on the early Irish in WI).

3. The question was.....what percentage of soldiers in the CSA army were slaveowners..... not their parents, not their family, not their household, and not their relations.

Your numbers are obfuscating the answer, IMHO.

Bill_Cross
08-04-2006, 09:20 AM
Familes DID NOT own slaves. Just as families don't own houses. Typically the head of the household might own slaves....and it might be the In Law or Father of the Head of Household. For all we know a 25 year old son in the family might be a slaveowner.....but my guess is that his father (Head of Household) might be the actual owner.
Talk about obfuscating!

I don't think we should read too much into the limitations of the census records before 1870 (I'm an amateur geneologist, too). Some states (VA) had strong inheritance laws, while others did not. Fact is, the head of the household could be an elderly woman, though I'm not sure that proves a lot in this discussion.

And given the strong ties of family, I fail to see what difference it makes whether the soldier, his father or his mother or even his sister owned the slave(s). The FAMILY had a stake in the ante-bellum social order, and we simply can't know if the soldier was a firebreather or was quietly opposed to slavery and planning to free his chattel upon the death of his elder.

The point we're missing here, in my opinion, is that Southern society was highly-stratified, with a powerful slave-owning upper class that had (as we're starting to see now in America) most of the wealth under its control. But then (as now) Americans believed in the notion of economic equality and advancement, so the non slave owners ASPIRED to be rich, landed and slave-owning. Contemporary observers noted the difference with, say England, where the lower classes "knew their place."

tompritchett
08-04-2006, 10:59 AM
Tom you are drifting madly from the original question.

1. Familes DID NOT own slaves. Just as families don't own houses. Typically the head of the household might own slaves....and it might be the In Law or Father of the Head of Household. For all we know a 25 year old son in the family might be a slaveowner.....but my guess is that his father (Head of Household) might be the actual owner.

Technically you are right. While the other members of the family did not actually have titled ownership of the family slaves, they were still masters of the family slaves. So maybe the question should be "how many soldiers were masters of at least one slave?" Most modern Americans make no distinction between being a master of a slave versus actually owning one.


2. Census', including the 1860 census, are by Household, not by Family.....you might have several families/generations living in one house. They may or may not skew your numbers.....but I don't think that the statistical number crunchers you cited made allowances for this....just as they didn't compile a list of Individuals that owned slaves.

Point well taken. However, this would only increase, not decrease, the number of soldiers that were masters of at least one slave.


3. The question was.....what percentage of soldiers in the CSA army were slaveowners..... not their parents, not their family, not their household, and not their relations.

Your numbers are obfuscating the answer, IMHO.

While I agree that the stated question involved titled ownership, I personally believe that in the modern context the issue of ownership is more of family ownership rather than personal ownership. Walk into any neighborhood and ask someone to point out his or her house. Everyone will either point it out directly or point in the general direction of it, regardless of whether or not their name is actually on the deed. Unless you are dealing with a relation or part of a couple who are living together, I strongly doubt that you will hear someone say "its actually not my house but ..." very often. After all the house is property used by the whole family (versus a car for example), just as slaves were back then. In fact, in the case of valet slaves I would not be surprised if the assigned master did not refer to that slaves as "his" even if the actual titled owner was someone else.

IMHO, Your splitting hairs is what is really obfuscating the answer. :)