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How many freed slaves owned slaves themselves in New Hanover County?

Slave market

The former slave market house in Wilmington. (Courtesy of the New Hanover County Public Library)

In 1924, Carter G. Woodson, commonly referred to as the “father of black history,” compiled a statistical report in a book called called “Free Negro Owners of Slaves in the United States in 1830 together with Absentee Ownership of Slaves in the United States in 1830.”

According to records contained in the book, 11 freedmen owned slaves of their own in New Hanover County. George Ware, Wanely Mosely (first name still questionable), Simon Larington, Phillis Bazadeir and William Buffo each reportedly owned one slave. Mary Cruise (last name still questionable) reportedly owned three slaves, Lewis Pajay owned four, John Walker owned 44, Roger Hazell owned five, James Campbell owned two and Henry Sampson owned five.

“In many instances the husband purchased the wife or vice versa,” Woodson wrote. “Slaves of Negroes were in some cases the children of a free father who had purchased his wife. If he did not thereafter emancipate the mother, as so many such husbands failed to do, his own children were born his slaves and were thus reported by the enumerators.”

Woodson said, “Benevolent Negroes often purchased slaves to make their lot easier by granting them their freedom for a nominal sum, or by permitting them to work it out on liberal terms.”

In his book, “The Free Negro in North Carolina, 1790-1860,” John Hope Franklin, a reknowned historian and professor, agreed, citing records and petitions of freedmen to manumit relatives.

“It seems that by far the larger portion of free negro owners of slaves were the possessor of this human chattel for benevolent reasons,” Franklin wrote in his book.

Nevertheless, Franklin also noted, “without doubt there were those who possessed slaves for the purpose of advancing their economic well being.”

The number of slaves held by freedmen was usually small, typically one, two, or three slaves, but as with John Walker, there were some notable exceptions.

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