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Unequal FreedomsEthnicity, Race, and White Supremacy in Civil War-Era Charleston$
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Jeff Strickland

Print publication date: 2015

Print ISBN-13: 9780813060798

Published to Florida Scholarship Online: January 2016

DOI: 10.5744/florida/9780813060798.001.0001

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Slavery and Urban Life

Slavery and Urban Life

(p.41) 2 Slavery and Urban Life
Unequal Freedoms

Jeff Strickland

University Press of Florida

German and Irish immigrants interacted with slaves and free blacks in Charleston on a daily basis and in a variety of social and economic contexts. The brutality of urban slavery was unmistakable as public punishment of slaves and free blacks by city authorities, mainly at the work house, was a common occurrence. German petty entrepreneurs were middlemen minorities that served as a buffer between African Americans and native-born whites. Germans owned and operated successful groceries and wholesale firms, and they often purchased property in the form of two-or three-story houses with stores on the ground level. Germans owned slaves at a rate consistent with their population numbers in 1850. Irish immigrants who could afford slaves purchased them with regularity. German men with few marital prospects among the native-born white population kept enslaved women as concubines. German and Irish petty shopkeepers undermined the slave system when they sold liquor to slaves and traded with slaves for property requisitioned from their masters. White Southerners disapproved of German and Irish shopkeepers who challenged their authority, and they reorganized the police force to better enforce the slave code.

Keywords:   Slave Punishment, Concubines, Urban Slavery, Illicit Trade, Slave Ownership, German Immigrants, Irish Immigrants, White Southerners, Slaves, Free Blacks

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