Article

The travail of Delaware slave families in the early republic

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Abstract

Largely ignored in histories of the American slave trade, Delaware provides a unique case study of a state that attempted to carve out its identity as the notions of a free North and a slaveholding South emerged in early America. Delaware’s small slaveholdings and relatively small geographic area created unique challenges for its enslaved population. Aided by Quaker and Methodist abolitionists, slaves fought against kidnappers, slave sales, and distance to build and maintain families. Using heretofore unexamined tax records, the travail of enslaved families in Delaware at the close of the eighteenth century is analyzed in great detail.

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