Antebellum, Chancery, Empirical, Family separation, Ideology, Quantitative, Sheriffs, Slave auctions, Slavery, South Carolina, Systemic racism, Trial courts
Sturm College of Law
This legal history article presents the empirical finding that the risk of family separation at slave auctions was higher at court-ordered and court-supervised sales as compared with private sales of capitalist auctioneers. The article also examines legal and ideological justification for the destruction of slave families. Law served to disguise human agency in the breakup of slave families.
This article builds upon the author’s earlier finding that a majority of slave auctions in South Carolina were conducted by the courts. The data for this article and the previous study were drawn from antebellum primary sources including trial-court records, the salesbooks of sheriffs, and records of masters in chancery.
Thomas D. Russell, Articles Sell Best Singly: The Disruption of Slave Families at Court Sales, 1996 UTAH L. REV. 1161 (1996).
Originally published as 1996 UTAH L. REV. 1161 (1996).
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