Black man owned 163 slaves in North Carolina





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Published on Feb 12, 2013

While usually portrayed as a victim of discrimination who just happened to own some slaves, in the book Runaway Slaves: Rebels on the Plantation by John Hope Franklin and Loren Schweninger, it's revealed John Carruthers Stanly was so cruel his slaves would run away.

The largest free black slaveholder in the South, John Carruthers Stanly of North Carolina, faced a number of problems in the 1820s in dealing with a slave labor force on his three turpentine plantations in Craven County. With a total of 163 slaves, Stanly was a harsh, profit-minded taskmaster, and his field hands would run away. Stanley dealt with this through his two white overseers and with a spy network that included a few trusted slaves. Brister, his slave barber in New Bern, was responsible for relaying to his owner rumors of planned escapes. On one occasion, Stanly proudly said that "thro the agency of the Negro Man Brister he has recd such information as has enabled him to apprehend one of his slaves which had run away and to prevent the absconding of others who had manifested an intention of deserting." Nor did Stanly have any pangs of conscience about selling children away from their parents or holding free blacks in bondage." In 1832 free black Kelly Davis, also called Kelso Mabeth. petitioned the Craven County Superior Court claiming that he was being illegally held by Stanly as a slave. The court concurred and ordered Davis's release.

Black History Month.

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