The Conversation - Slavery was women's business too

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An old myth of U.S. history is that slavery was big business for men and men alone. To this day, many Americans believe that white women, particularly in the antebellum South, were relatively uninvolved in the buying and selling of human beings. 



While this popular belief is rooted partly in earlier generations of scholarship, new research has shown that slavery was far more profitable for women than previously understood. In fact, in some states, slavery was associated with unique legal and economic protections for women – namely, for slave-owning white women.

Surveying recent work in economics and U.S. history, The Ohio State University economist Trevon Logan presents the sometimes surprising ways race, gender and money interacted in the economy of enslavement – and mulls the contradictions of an “early feminist institution” for white women that brutally oppressed women of color.

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Tracy Walsh

Economy + Business Editor

A colorized engraving depicts enslavers selling enslaved people in the 19th-century South. Corbis via Getty Images

American slavery wasn’t just a white man’s business − new research shows how white women profited, too

Trevon Logan, The Ohio State University

Human bondage was big business in the antebellum US, and men weren’t the only ones cashing in.

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