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They Were Her Property

White Women as Slave Owners in the American South
Narrated by: Allyson Johnson
Length: 10 hrs and 26 mins
Categories: History, Americas

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Publisher's Summary

A bold and searing investigation into the role of white women in the American slave economy. 

Bridging women's history, the history of the South, and African-American history, this audiobook makes a bold argument about the role of white women in American slavery. Historian Stephanie E. Jones-Rogers draws on a variety of sources to show that slave-owning women were sophisticated economic actors who directly engaged in and benefited from the South's slave market. Because women typically inherited more slaves than land, enslaved people were often their primary source of wealth. 

Not only did white women often refuse to cede ownership of their slaves to their husbands, they employed management techniques that were as effective and brutal as those used by slave-owning men. 

White women actively participated in the slave market, profited from it, and used it for economic and social empowerment. By examining the economically entangled lives of enslaved people and slave-owning women, Jones-Rogers presents a narrative that forces us to rethink the economics and social conventions of slaveholding America.

©2019 Stephanie E. Jones-Rogers (P)2019 Tantor

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  • rrj0717
  • 18-03-19

White Women Slave Owners

I did not fully understand just how central and significant was the role played by white women during slavery. This books offers and in-depth look inside that world. Very enlightening.

11 people found this helpful

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  • Amanda E.
  • 23-05-19

Great documentation Poor Editing

The content of this book is important. The stories shared are from a variety of sources, mostly from the previously ignored contemporary voices of enslaved people themselves. The thesis with the evidence is strongly supported. The reason I gave it only 3 stars is that the editing is poor. Chapters claim to have a topic, like slave markets or slave discipline, but the chapter and it's stories would meander across all aspects of slave holding by mistresses. I'm glad I read it but with a little more editorial shaping it could have been a very powerful entry into public discourse.

6 people found this helpful

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  • Mary
  • 22-08-19

Women ARE just like men

This book only goes to prove my point that women can be cold heartless egotistical and are more than capable of doing the very same things they real about men

Some of the things these women did would give me a sickening feeling as it would remind me of how my mother was a farmer and raised cattle for sale and profit.

Today as we talk of reparations Americans gave the rebel traders reparations but not the slaves. For those who would give the argument that this was too many years ago, as developers build communities the federal government required them to segregate how’s it and real estate agent denied African Americans opportunities to purchase homes. This did Nied them the economic opportunity of inherited wealth. This is still being done today.

Most people cannot talk about these things as we cannot bring ourselves to admit them. Shame on us .

4 people found this helpful

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  • J. Dalton
  • 29-06-19

Decent Study of One Dimension of Slavery

The writer explains her intention clearly, which is to debunk the myth that women were distanced from the slavery in the American South. She does a great job of this. Some pros: the book makes the best use of primary source documents of any history book I've ever read, including the WPA interviews of former slaves. the book does exactly what it sets out to do, pulling no punches in it's interpretation of white women's motives and their ability to be just as cruel, selfish and mercenary as men. The writer also does not shy away from presenting some of the most unpleasant aspects of slavery. Some cons: the reliance on primary documents means that some of the information can be repetitive, as she has to present and analyze each source. The narration is a little weird. Her voice is a little distracting and I don't know how to feel about her use of different accents and voices.

When I told a friend about the premise of this book, he immediately said "47% of white women voted for Trump." I think that this book is useful in the same way that statistic is. It's important that we see the ways that white women can be complicit in systems that are oppressive because they benefit from them, despite the narrative about women being compassionate and providing a sort of moral compass.

4 people found this helpful

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  • Star Dust
  • 09-02-20

Totally Tanks the Case for Feminism

What stands out even more than the evil deeds of the "eveyday white woman slave owner", was that the legal rights afforded white women in the Antebellum South were AMAZINGLY ABUNDANT. They only ever fought for a BIGGER piece of the pie from their husbands, fathers and brothers, "freedom" was never an issue... for them. Yet somehow they are the largest group that receives the perks of Affirmative Action. But, to the victors go the spoils of war. I think the South won in the end.

1 person found this helpful

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  • Antwine Hurst
  • 29-01-20

All White Women in America must Read

if u identify as a "white woman" u should read or listen to this book.

1 person found this helpful

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  • akii
  • 04-05-19

Excellent book and stories

Amazing details and women's studies information. I enjoyed learning more about American history from a different lense.

1 person found this helpful

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  • Anonymous User
  • 12-04-19

Read/listen to this book

If you are advising someone running for President or you are the candidate, read this book. If you are a person whom push’s identity politics, read this book. If you are a white American, read this book... if you are a person whom likes to think themselves informed you should read this book. This book is as enlightening a read as anyone could expect for said subject... Further it should be on everyone’s short list for summer/down time reads.

2 people found this helpful

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  • Curatina
  • 17-02-20

The Reality Behind The Myth

This deeply researched book tells a story of how white women were economically and socially empowered through carefully crafted documents that gave them sole ownership of property that could not be touched by a husband or his creditors and how the women fought it the courts to retain their sole ownership.
HOWEVER this property was HUMAN and the empowerment came from exercising supremacy over these humans and deeming them to have lesser feelings of pain, sorrow, and love.
This book opened my eyes and filled in some of the questions I had about how white women lived and operated in the brutal world of slavery. They were part and parcel of all aspects of brutal race based slavery.
It made me understand how the women’s fierce defense of their property rights was part of their radical support of the confederacy and their later participation robbing black citizens of their ability to thrive and participate as white citizens and in sometimes being the instruments for rationalizing mob murders of black people.
White women were responsible for writing many of the letters and commentary that insisted that slavery was a good thing for black people and a burden for whites people. This was the fairy tale that was promulgated and believed while all along the truth of buying and selling, brutal punishments and murder lurked in court documents, records of sales, and interviews with former slaves.
I recommend the book to everyone.

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  • Amazon Customer
  • 03-02-20

Very informative

Gives a deeper insight into the role white women played in Slavery. It also helps you to see how their children continue to maintain the deep seeded bias towards ADOS people. The education comes from the womb.