Page:Popular Science Monthly Volume 81.djvu/495

From Wikisource
Jump to: navigation, search
This page has been validated.
489
NEGROES WHO OWNED SLAVES

he felt. He replied: "O, I am feeling poorly. I am getting old. They all tell me it was a good thing to free the negroes, but I wish I had my 'niggers' back once more."

There were instances in which free negroes became the purchasers and masters of transported white people, redemptioners. An example of the purchase by free negroes of two families of Germans who had not been able to pay their passage from Amsterdam to Baltimore and were sold for their passage money to a term of labor, is given in a volume issued in 1818 in Stuttgart. It contains letters written in 1817 addressed from Baltimore to the Baron von Gagern, Minister Plenipotentiary to the diet in Frankfort-on-the-Main. The Germans of Baltimore were so outraged by this action that they immediately got together a purse and bought the freedom of these immigrants. An early law of Virginia is aimed at the same thing, and forbids negroes or Indians to buy "Christian servants," but permits them to purchase those of their own "nation."

A colored man now living in Pensacola, Fla., by name John Pous, is the son of a white father and a negro mother. They owned many slaves. When the father died the family continued to own them until the civil war. John fought in the union army. Some of his slaves are with him yet — to be supported by him.

One free negro in North Carolina became the purchaser though not the owner of his family. The circumstances were touching. He was a blacksmith and had married a slave woman, by whom he had several children. His shop was on his former master's farm, where he was liked and kindly treated. But finally this man got involved in debt and all his slaves, among them the blacksmith's family, were seized by the creditors and sold to a speculator, who resold them in Mississippi. The husband went desperately to work and in a few years got together sufficient money, placed it in their first owner's hand and got him to repurchase and bring back from the terrible south the loved ones; he was content that they should remain slaves — for the temper of the neighborhood was at the time hostile to manumission — so that he need not be separated from them.

There are other sources of information on this theme than personal reminiscences, though certain of these are difficult of access. If, for instance, all of the census of the United States for 1790 were in print, doubtless a very large number of data of this kind could be obtained. The census of only three states, New Hampshire, Vermont and Maryland, has been printed. That of Maryland furnishes interesting facts concerning negro slaveholders. In the volume called "Heads of Families, First Census of the United States; 1790; State of Maryland," issued by the government in 1907, the white and black population is given by counties. The report indicates in different columns free white