Page:Popular Science Monthly Volume 81.djvu/500

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494
THE POPULAR SCIENCE MONTHLY

owner. Applying this ratio to the 500,000 free negroes, we have 6,200 negro slave owners.

Accepting the proportion of slaves to each owner, as found already, 3 each, we have more than 18,000 slaves held by negroes in the course of slavery in this country.

We believe this to be a very moderate estimate. We are of the opinion that these figures are much below the fact. Yet they may be suggestive as a conservative estimate on a matter concerning which no estimate has ever been made before, so far as we know.

This puzzling subject has interested me for a number of years. Several years ago, I gathered such data as I could at the time and prepared a paper on "Black Masters," which appeared in the North American Review, November, 1905. Later, I undertook a further search. I searched as much of the literature of slavery as was accessible to me, and this was done to a major extent with only negative results. I carried on a wide correspondence with state librarians, public librarians, historians, historical societies and a host of individuals who might probably be possessed of some of the knowledge I was seeking. I sent cards to twenty newspapers asking for correspondence on the subject. These letters in two conspicuous instances came to the notice of leading newspapers, which took up the subject and printed letters, quoted documents and brought out a good deal of illuminating information. During the summer of 1907 more than forty newspapers quoted these data or commented on them, in the main giving the few facts over again as they had appeared in the two or three papers that opened up the discussion. This was spoken of as "the new phase of slavery," and was discussed editorially in several instances. Certain editors frankly acknowledge previous ignorance of such a condition. Others lifted their eyebrows and suggested a degree of incredulity, perhaps scenting a fake. A number of journals, however, brought some grist of desired information to the mill.

The bibliography of this subject is exceedingly sparse. There is no treatise specifically on the theme, except my own paper in the North American Review. There is no reference to it in any encyclopedia, as far as I can learn. There are only scattered references to it in a few books and in files of newspapers. The bulk of the facts is still buried in unpublished documents in court houses, historical societies and libraries. There are probably a few hundreds of people still living who have recollections of this phase of slavery. So we are justified in calling this subject, in its completeness, a lost chapter. [1]

  1. The facts for this essay were gathered by me for Mr. A. H. Stone, representing the Carnegie Institution of Washington, and are here used by his consent.