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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, American
4.5 out of 5 stars (92 ratings)

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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
  • Metro Orlando, FL USA
  • 03-18-19

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.

10 of 10 people found this review helpful

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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.

4 of 4 people found this review helpful

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  • P.
  • 08-24-19

Sympathetic…

One can tell the book is written from the perspective of not only a woman, but a White woman, and she is fully entitled. It depicts the horrors of enslavement. In its own way, it frames the cause of one race’s guilt, and therefore fear, and its subsequent resistance to justice.

What it lacks is identification. Perhaps it was to be expected. While making commodification of Black life clear, it mocks the enslaved by quoting Blacks using slave dialect, reinforcing stereotypes. Enslaved Blacks knew proper grammar and pronunciation. It also referenced using certain types of whips “efficient.” There is no efficiency in barbarism. An author need not make a justice claim in an historical account. What she can do is not paint slave masters as anything except the savages they were. The violence they brought on their property, physical as well as psychological, which diminished their own investments, was sadistic, foolish as well as immoral.

1 of 1 people found this review helpful

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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 .

1 of 1 people found this review helpful

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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.

1 of 1 people found this review helpful

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Excellent book and stories

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

1 of 1 people found this review helpful

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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 of 3 people found this review helpful

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Historical Diversity—Hi

The issues are tackled from many POVs. I would say that carnal issues are discussed, like many others, with an appropriate amount of academic shrewdness; the discussion is non-judgmental, but honest and matter-of-fact.

There is some scorn for the feminist-type. However, some chapters later, the author acknowledges that the women in her book were acting and being treated much like men, even way back then.

Ok I’m convinced there’s enough good in this it will be a rewarding read for most people who are interested in US history, property rights, etc.

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The matriarch had it's role too...

Informative book that changes how one looks at slavery. The book sheds light on the mistress(es) who for the most part were seen as merely "on the sideline of slavery". It shines light on how it wasn't just men who benefited/profited off of slavery. Well read. Might listen to it again to better imbibe my mind of the matriachal side of slavery that rarely gets spoken of.

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Very Informative

Provided a different perspective on ownership of slaves and the extent white women would go to to keep them.