We shall now attempt to make an estimate of the number of negro slaveholders throughout the period of the existence of slavery in America, and the number of slaves held by them. We shall proceed upon the basis of certain data already ascertained and set forth in this paper.
Let us take first the date 1790. In that year there were in Maryland forty-eight negro slaveholders, owning one hundred and forty-three slaves.
There were then in that state free negroes, 8,043. The ratio of negro slaveholders there and then to other free negroes in 1790 in Maryland was 1 in 167. The average of slaves per owner was 3.
There were in 1836 in New Orleans 610 slaves owned by free negroes. The average of slaves per negro owner in Maryland was, as we have shown, 3. Taking the same average as holding in New Orleans in relation to these 640 slaves, we have 213 colored slave owners in New Orleans in 1836. We may safely assume that there were as many more in the whole state of Louisiana, or 426 in all, at that date.
There were in Louisiana in 1830 (we have the census by decades, and not for the years between), free negroes, 16,710. The ratio of the 426 colored slave owners to other free negroes would be 1 in 39.
Again, in Charleston, S. C, there were in 1860 colored slave owners, 132. We may safely assume that there were as many more in the whole state of South Carolina, or 264 in all.
In 1860 there were in South Carolina free colored people, 9,914. The ratio is 1 to every 37 other free colored people in that state at that time.
There were in the slaveholding states during the whole period of slavery at least 500,000 free negroes. This can be estimated by taking the total census of free negroes, by decades, from 1790 to 1860, dividing in half to avoid counting any one twice, and dividing again in half to exclude the free states.
Taking the ratio 1 in 167 in 1790 in Maryland, and 1 in 39 in Louisiana in 1836, and 1 in 37 in South Carolina in 1860, and taking their sum and dividing by 3, we have the ratio of 1 in 80 as a slave
- Extract from the Plaquemine, La., Sentinel, 1859.