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Open Access Publications from the University of California

“De old devil!”: Female Slaveholders, Violence, and Slave Management in Louisiana

Creative Commons 'BY-NC-ND' version 3.0 license

Plantation mistresses used violence on a daily basis to manage and control enslaved people on their plantations. In all the seminal works on slavery, the voices of slaveholding women are noticeably silent. The brutal system of slavery, despite the implication by the historiography, involved female slaveholders in addition to male slaveholders. Moreover, the sources suggest that plantation mistresses were comfortable with their role as enforcers of order through violence, even before the transformation and upheaval of Southern society when thecommencement of the Civil War compelled white women to take control of plantations, large numbers of slaves, and the continued maintenance of Southern slave society.

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