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Title: A White Man's World: The Sexual Exploitation of Enslaved Women in the Urban Deep South
Authors: Eiland, Sarah W.
Advisors: Loynes, Duane T.
Keywords: Student research;Institute for Regional Studies;Papers;Slavery;Women;Mobile (Ala.);Memphis (Tenn.);Nashville (Tenn.);Vicksburg (Miss.);Forrest, Nathan Bedford, 1821-1877;Fellowships;History, Department of;Africana Studies
Issue Date: 1-Jul-2018
Abstract: In the nineteenth century southern United States the role of the female slave had a dual nature. Enslaved women played an important role in the daily operations of domestic life and were typically used to provide labor in spheres that were not particularly physically demanding. Added to their roles as domestic laborers, enslaved women were often expected to, by virtue of their bodies, perpetuate slavery and improve the lives of white slaveholding men. For slave owners, the inherent value of enslaved women was connected to their reproductive abilities. White slave traders and white slave owners often exploited female slaves for their own monetary or personal gain. To explore the experiences of enslaved women who lived in the urban Deep South, the slave trade and population of four regionally important cities will be discussed. Memphis, Tennessee; Nashville, Tennessee; Vicksburg, Mississippi; and Mobile, Alabama, were each home to large slave populations and booming slave trades. The lives of women enslaved in these urban environments were inherently different from their plantation counterparts. The density of urban environments and the organization of domestic urban slavery allowed white men uninterrupted access to the women of color they owned. This allowed for the exertion of physical dominance over enslaved women which often ended in sexual violence. Due to the urban living structure, enslaved women in Memphis, Nashville, Vicksburg, and Mobile experienced a considerable amount of sexual assault at the hands of their owners. Evidence of this sexual exploitation and abuse is attested to in the businesses records of the slave trade, former slaves' personal accounts of mistreatment, and can be inferred from the population statistics of mixed-race slave populations present in all four cities.
Appears in Collections:Rhodes Institute for Regional Studies

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