Chapter

Forced Separation

Damian Alan Pargas

in The Quarters and the Fields

Published by University Press of Florida

Published in print November 2010 | ISBN: 9780813035147
Published online September 2011 | e-ISBN: 9780813038773 | DOI: http://dx.doi.org/10.5744/florida/9780813035147.003.0008
Forced Separation

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No slave family in the antebellum South was completely safeguarded from the chance of forced separation, but scholars have long disagreed about the extent of family breakups and even the methods of forced separation. The specific labor demands and nature of slaveholding in various localities could make forced separation a vague yet real possibility, or a constantly recurring nightmare. In an attempt to shed light upon the long-term stability of slave families in northern Virginia, low-country South Carolina, and southern Louisiana, this chapter examines the extent to which family bonds were forcibly ruptured, particularly by estate divisions, sale (local and long distance), and long-term hiring. It makes clear that the boundaries inhibiting long-term stability among slave families, and the opportunities available to either avoid or soften the blow of forced separation, differed across time and space according to the nature of slave-based agriculture.

Keywords: forced separation; slaveholding; family bonds; slave families; slave-based agriculture; hiring; southern Louisiana

Chapter.  13155 words. 

Subjects: History of the Americas

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