What did it mean to be a person and to also be a commodity in early America?
Daina Ramey Berry, an Associate Professor of History at the University of Texas, Austin and author of The Price For Their Pound of Flesh: The Value of the Enslaved, from Womb to Grave, in the Building of a Nation, takes us behind the scenes of her research so we can explore how early Americans valued and commodified enslaved men, women, and children.
About the Show
Ben Franklin’s World is a podcast about early American history.
It is a show for people who love history and for those who want to know more about the historical people and events that have impacted and shaped our present-day world.
Each episode features a conversation with a historian who helps us shed light on important people and events in early American history.
Ben Franklin’s World is a production of the Omohundro Institute.
As we go behind the scenes of Daina’s research, we discover the prices early Americans ascribed to enslaved men, women, and children; The relationship between age and an enslaved person’s economic value; And, how the end of the transatlantic slave trade and the rise of the domestic slave trade impacted the values of enslaved people.
What You’ll Discover
Relationship between age and an enslaved person’s economic value
- Why the valuation of enslaved people starts with women & their unborn children
- The prices early Americans ascribed to enslaved men, women, and children
- The end of the African Slave Trade to the United States
- Words early Americans used to describe enslaved people
- The domestic slave trade and how it worked
- Why the last four decades of the 18th century were crucial for assessing the values early Americans ascribed to enslaved women
- Market and appraised value of enslaved people
- Experiences of enslaved children
- Monetary values placed on enslaved children
- Monetary values placed on middle and older aged enslaved people
- Valuations and the purchase of enslaved people’s freedom
- The domestic cadaver trade
- Insurance policies for slaveholders on enslaved people
Links to People, Places, and Publications
- Daina Ramey Berry
- The Price for Their Pound of Flesh: The Value of the Enslaved, from Womb to Grave, in the Building of a Nation
- “Swing the Sickle for the Harvest Is Ripe”: Gender and Slavery in Antebellum Georgia
- Robert William Fogel, Without Consent or Contract: The Rise and Fall of American Slavery
- Stanley L. Engerman, Slavery, Emancipation, and Freedom: Comparative Perspectives
- Steven Deyle, Carry Me Back: The Domestic Slave Trade in American Life
- Walter Johnson, Soul by Soul: Life Inside the Antebellum Slave Market
- Harriet Jacobs, Incidents in the Life of a Slave Girl
- Sharon Ann Murphy, Investing in Life: Insurance in Antebellum America
- Nell Painter, Soul, Murder, and Slavery
- Episode 008: Gregory O’Malley, Final Passages: The Intercolonial Slave Trade in British America, 1619-1807
- Episode 016: Alan Taylor, The Internal Enemy, Slavery and War in Virginia, 1772-1832
- Episode 070: Jennifer Morgan, How Historians Research
- Episode 126: Terri Snyder, Death, Suicide, & Slavery in British North America
- Episode 137: Erica Dunbar, The Washingtons’ Runaway Slave, Ona Judge
In your opinion, what might have happened if the United States Constitution had not abolished the African slave trade in 1806? How would the continuation of the transatlantic trade have impacted the development of the domestic slave trade and the experiences of enslaved women over the course of the 19th century?
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