They Were Her Property’ Author reveals how white women took part in and profited from slave industry

They Were Her Property’ Author reveals how white women took part in and profited from slave industry

Stephanie E. Jones Rogers, author of “They Were Her Property” (White Women as Slave Owners In the American South), dismantles this notion through a series of historical documents and other resources. Jones-Rogers is an associate professor at University of California Berkeley. She explained to Mississippi Today that the book was about white women investing in white supremacy. While we see them as a group that operates primarily as an oppressed or marginalized group due to their gender, this group discovered that they could exert a certain amount of power by investing in a racist society. Jones-Rogers stated that she accidentally found the book’s basis as a graduate student. Jones-Rogers noticed that the historical literature on the African American experience in South was different from the literature about Southern women. She said that one relied heavily upon the reflections of former enslaved persons, while the other relied more heavily on correspondence left behind from white women’s letters, diaries, and letters. She explained that the two characterizations are different because they use these sources in different ways. She said that she believes this partly because we have a better understanding of the gender roles of those times. But she was able to find evidence everywhere she looked. The book covers eight chapters that detail the various aspects of white women’s involvement in the slave trade. This includes buying and selling slaves, disciplining them and taking them to court to prove their ownership. The book was published in this year’s Jones-Rogers. “Slave-owning females not only witnessed the worst aspects of slavery but they also profited from them and defended them,” Jones Rogers writes. In order to be economically independent as married women, their parents often gave slaves to their daughters when they were young. Married women were often subject to the doctrine of “coverture” at the time. This meant that a woman’s “very being” and “legal existence” did not belong to her husband. Many women found ways to be independent as businesspeople and slave owners despite this. Many anecdotes, and references to Mississippi are included in the book. Susan Hunter purchased 18 slaves in 1841 while she lived there. She later moved to Kentucky to be legally recognized as their owner. Frances Gray, a Scooba, Mississippi woman, stated that she wouldn’t let anyone, including her husband, mistreat her slaves. She said they were her property and her livelihood and she wanted to make sure nobody else did. Jones-Rogers called the book an ugly feminist history. It’s similar to a feminist dream in certain respects. Jones-Rogers stated that women say, OK, I can’t do A and B and C but they will find ways to have autonomy in their lives that will benefit them and future generations. But that dream eventually becomes a nightmare. Slavery was their freedom. The book contains frank details about women’s treatment of slaves and how they were treated by them. Jones-Rogers stated that the book took 10 years to complete. She also said that there were times when she had no choice but to leave because she was having to read and revise passages filled full of atrocities. She said that the darker parts of her book were also difficult for her. “What would make me return to the book was ultimately, I was thinking of these formerly slaved people.” The book refers to interviews with former enslaved persons who were part of the Federal Writer’s Project at the Works Progress Administration in 1930s. These interviews included African Americans talking about their experiences. Jones-Rogers stated that they wanted to hear the truth, but not to have it sanitized. Jones-Rogers stated that “this book is about white slave-owning females, but it’s also about them and their experiences as owned by these women.” “They were Her Property” was published by Yale University Press on February 19, 2019._x000D