I have recently accepted an offer to write an entry for a new encyclopedia series written for undergraduates on the Early American Republic.  But before I write this, I am kind of curious what average folks (my readers) think.

What do you know about slave patrols?  I don’t care if your read it, heard it, or are simply making a wild guess.  Post a comment about what you think slave patrols were, who served in them, etc.

Thanks for your help.

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Comments
  1. krislinatin says:

    hmmm, wild guess, my son would know better than i, he loves history.
    they either patroled to find runaway slaves or to find slaves in ther native country.
    what do i win? 🙂

  2. Well, have your son post. I am curious what average folks (non-academics) know about slave patrols.

  3. lifelemons says:

    I know nothing about slave patrols.

  4. Wow, I was a History major in college and I can’t tell you what a slave patrol is. How dumb do I feel right now?

  5. I don’t know what they are but I was going to guess something just like what Krislinatin said – patrolling to find runaway slaves.

  6. nuke says:

    would it have anything to do with the Fugitive Slave Law, or perhaps less formal methods used by slaveholders to put a bounty on fugitive slaves?

  7. Somewhat Nuke- but they far preceded the fugitive slave law and could be informal, but they also could (and often) did have a very formal (and legal) structure.

  8. mommyzabs says:

    embarrased to say i have no clue.

  9. stevereenie says:

    You might want to add this to your resources.

    http://www.yale.edu/glc/maroon/schweninger.pdf

    ………. Next Stop Lauderdale

  10. Michelle says:

    Slave Patrols, sounds like some kind of rap music singer. I have no clue!

  11. isaacme says:

    I have NO idea. I’m so home schooled. So just out of curiosity, why were you chosen? [Since I have no idea what the subject is I obviously am not jealous that they picked you I’m just curious.]

  12. Randy says:

    I cheated. I looked to see what it was about. Having grown up in SC, 12 years public education, 4 years in SC university (the good one), and recent MBA, I had never heard the term. Finding out what it meant, I never heard about it in school. Oh, I should note, I took a special 1 semester class in high school, The History of the South, and I never heard about it.

    I do have a question that you may be able to answer. What percentage of southerners owned slaves? Most people have the impression that all southerners did, but my impression is that it was a small percentage. All of my relatives are from the south, what are the odds that one was a slave owner?

  13. “I do have a question that you may be able to answer. What percentage of southerners owned slaves? Most people have the impression that all southerners did, but my impression is that it was a small percentage. All of my relatives are from the south, what are the odds that one was a slave owner?”
    The answer, which I am sure you won’t want to hear, it depends on where and when. As a general rule earlier (1700-1810) slave ownership was more evenly spread out throughout the population from farmers who owned one or two slaves to plantation owners who owned several dozen or possibly hundreds. From roughly 1820-1860 slave ownership (although by no means limited to) began to consolidate in the hands of wealthy plantation owners- this is also partly due to the rise in the cost of purchasing a slave. The purchase price of a slave in 1850 on average was about $850-1,000 dollars. In today’s dollars that would equate to about $36,000-40,000 dollars.
    Second general rule. Depends on the location: Deep South versus Old South, Mountains versus coastal area, etc. Coastal areas tended to have higher slave holdings than mountain areas- for obvious reasons. The Deep South (somewhere like Mississippi) had a much greater disparity between very large plantations and dirt poor none-slaveholding whites than somewhere like North Carolina (the Old South) where much fewer large scale plantations existed.
    So if you want to tell me where you ancestors lived I could give you a better guess.
    Isaac: To answer your question. I guess I was asked because it was a large part of my thesis. There are very few historians who deal with slave patrols. Only one other has done extensive work on the subject. Her work is exquisite and very well-research. I would recommend her book on slave Patrols any day. Her name is Sally Hadden.

  14. Randy says:

    “So if you want to tell me where you ancestors lived I could give you a better guess.”

    When my son did a project for fifth grade geography we learned that for four generations (back to late 1800’s or so) all of my relatives were from upstate SC with the except of two, they were just across the state line in NC or Ga. As far as I can tell, they were rural citizens, growing up on a farm.

    I’ve never done a lot of family ancestry research. I knew both parents, both grandmothers, neither grandfather. Frankly, who came before that didn’t matter much.

    I was just curious. If you have a guess, let me know

  15. For about $19.95/month Ancestry.com could answer most of your questions. They have the U.S. census from 1790 through 1900 available for text based search- it is super easy. Your son could follow your generations back and actually see on the 1850 and 1860 census how many slaves your family owned.

    If they were simple back country farmers they either owned no slaves or very few slaves (1-3) who likely helped both in the field and in the home.

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