This is the fourth and last in a series of essays that began with this quote.
“The negroes from the Middle and the New-England states, who, under the emancipation laws of those states, were forced into the markets of Va. and other southern states, did not thereby become more of slaves than they were before. There was a transfer of the place of servitude — that was all.”
Written by Matthew F. Maury in 1852 to justify his argument for sending slaves to South America as one of the ways of ridding the country of blacks. My interest was to determine if he was correct.
Were large numbers of slaves from Northern states sold to people in Southern states instead of being set free?
My investigation indicates he was correct, but it was not the norm. Maury never suggested a magnitude, just that it happened. Using census data, I calculated that there were about 7,000 blacks who likely went South from 1800 to 1820. In other words, based on population growth rates, there were fewer blacks in the North in 1820 than one would have expected. They were either sold as slaves or chose to go to a Southern state as a “free colored” people. Please see A Northern Emancipation Question (Essay Three) for details.
I would be remiss if I did not address Maury and his idea of how to end slavery in the United States. His notion was different from the typical colonization ideas that Abraham Lincoln and others in across the country supported. Colonization included emancipation, but not staying in the United States. Maury was indicating the people would remain enslaved. Yet, I don’t think Maury’s idea was out of the American 19th century mainstream. The driving idea was that blacks were not wanted in the country. In the North, some states and territories had laws restricting blacks from settling. Where blacks were allowed in the North, they did not have the same opportunities or rights as whites.
The end of the war demonstrated that the Republicans and abolitionists did not care what happened to the freedmen. Immediate emancipation of four million slaves was never the plan. It happened because of the war. There is credible evidence that hundreds-of-thousands died of exposure, disease, and starvation because of the Lincoln administration’s lack of concern. Maury’s idea lacked the same empathy as Lincoln’s let them “root, hog or die”.