Presenter Information

Sarah Eiland, Rhodes CollegeFollow

Date

5-13-2020

Description

In the 19th century American South White slave traders and white slave owners exploited female slaves for their own monetary or personal gain. For slave owners, the inherent value of enslaved women was connected to their reproductive abilities. Enslaved women were often expected to, by virtue of their bodies, perpetuate slavery and submit to the impulses of white slaveholding men. To explore the experiences of enslaved women who lived in the urban Deep South, the slave trade and population of four regionally important cities will be discussed. Memphis, Tennessee; Nashville, Tennessee; Vicksburg, Mississippi; and Mobile, Alabama, were each home to large slave populations and booming slave trades. The lives of women enslaved in these urban environments were inherently different from their plantation counterparts. The density of urban environments and the organization of domestic urban slavery allowed white men uninterrupted access to the women of color they owned. This allowed for the exertion of physical dominance over enslaved women which often ended in sexual violence. Due to the urban living structure, enslaved women in Memphis, Nashville, Vicksburg, and Mobile experienced a considerable amount of sexual assault at the hands of their owners. Evidence of this sexual exploitation and abuse is attested to in the businesses records of the slave trade, former slaves' personal accounts of mistreatment, and can be inferred from the population statistics of mixed-race slave populations present in all four cities.

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May 13th, 12:00 AM

A White Man's World: The Sexual Exploitation of Enslaved Women in the Urban Deep South

In the 19th century American South White slave traders and white slave owners exploited female slaves for their own monetary or personal gain. For slave owners, the inherent value of enslaved women was connected to their reproductive abilities. Enslaved women were often expected to, by virtue of their bodies, perpetuate slavery and submit to the impulses of white slaveholding men. To explore the experiences of enslaved women who lived in the urban Deep South, the slave trade and population of four regionally important cities will be discussed. Memphis, Tennessee; Nashville, Tennessee; Vicksburg, Mississippi; and Mobile, Alabama, were each home to large slave populations and booming slave trades. The lives of women enslaved in these urban environments were inherently different from their plantation counterparts. The density of urban environments and the organization of domestic urban slavery allowed white men uninterrupted access to the women of color they owned. This allowed for the exertion of physical dominance over enslaved women which often ended in sexual violence. Due to the urban living structure, enslaved women in Memphis, Nashville, Vicksburg, and Mobile experienced a considerable amount of sexual assault at the hands of their owners. Evidence of this sexual exploitation and abuse is attested to in the businesses records of the slave trade, former slaves' personal accounts of mistreatment, and can be inferred from the population statistics of mixed-race slave populations present in all four cities.