6 Blacks who claimed freedom then earned exponential wealth as slave owners

6 Blacks who claimed freedom then earned exponential wealth as slave owners
Statue of a child slave (Photo credit: Shutterstock / elyn)

Contrary to popular opinion, slavery was not singularly unique to the United States and North America. Over the centuries it has been carried out on six of the seven continents. During the 13th century, the Mongols enslaved millions and frequently sold them in markets across Eurasia.

Mansa Musa, King of the Mali Empire in the 14th century and considered to be the richest man to have ever existed, owned slaves and took more than 12,000 with him on his pilgrimage to Mecca. He became extremely wealthy selling Africans as slaves. Slavery was also widespread in many West and Central African societies before and during the trans-Atlantic slave trade. A true historical understanding of history in terms of U.S. slavery must acknowledge the fact many Blacks owned slaves from the time of the revolutionary war until the ratification of the 13th and 14th amendments.

Slavery was not just limited to Whites owning Blacks but also large numbers of free Negroes owning Black slaves as well. Slavery was not as widespread as many think. In fact, according to the U.S. Census, the last year before the Civil War, it was reported that there were less than 385,000 individuals who owned slaves and freed blacks were some of the largest slave owners among them all.

Here are just a few:

William Ellison

Ellison was born a slave but became a U.S. cotton gin maker and blacksmith in South Carolina. He was South Carolina’s largest Black slaveowner among more than 170 recorded Black slave owners in the state. From 1830 until the end of the civil war, records indicate that he owned 63 Black slaves and 40 slaves when he died.

Justus Angel and Mistress L. Horry

It is documented that Angel and Horry each owned 84 slaves in 1830. According to Black Masters: A Free Family of Color in the Old South written by Michael P. Johnson and James L. Roak, around one in four of the free Negro slave masters in South Carolina owned 10 or more slaves with eight owning 30 or more.

C. Richards and her son P.C. Richards

The Richards’ owned a large sugar cane plantation in Louisiana with 152 slaves. This made them the Black family in the state who owned the most slaves. In his book From Slavery to Freedom, Duke University professor John Hope Franklin indicated that in New Orleans over 3,000 free Negroes (28 percent of the free Negroes in that city) owned slaves and there were six who owned 65 or more slaves.

Antoine Dubuclet Jr.

Before the civil war, Dubuclet was one of the wealthiest free Blacks in the nation. By 1860, he owned more than one hundred slaves to run his sugar plantation.

Joseph Pendarvis and family

The Pendarvis family was one of the most prominent in the South. During the 1730s, they owned the biggest rice plantations in and around Colleton County (now the Charleston area) and owned over 123 slaves.

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