The US has a long and gruesome history of slavery that has affected almost every part of its culture. Children in school learn the harsh circumstances that slaves were forced to live with and the incredible cruelty white slave owners showed them. American history teachers know how important it is to teach the horrors of slavery—not only so the mistakes of the past aren’t repeated but because the long-term oppression and cruelty toward black people extends even to modern times in important cultural issues such as police brutality and a cycle of poverty that is directly linked to racism caused by slavery.
What isn’t often taught is that there were many black people who not only participated in the slave trade but who often profited greatly from it. They owned slaves as property in order to enhance their own economical well-being by having free labor for their plantations. Many were biracial children of former white masters and were either freed or were left some property in a will. The American South is infamous for using slaves on their large plantations, and many of the black slave owners on this list are from South Carolina and Louisiana. Some were considered slave magnates (for owning more than 50 slaves), but others earned their place simply for their unique stories.
10. Dilsey Pope
Dilsey Pope was born a free woman, and when she was older, she bought the man she loved in order to marry him. Many state laws at the time would not allow slaves to be emancipated, so it was common for family or spouses to technically own their family. Dilsy owned her own house and land, and she also hired her husband out as labor.
What makes this particular situation so unique is that when Dilsey and her husband had a fight, Dilsey sold him to her white neighbor out of spite. While many modern women might wish to get rid of their husbands, Dilsey truly takes the cake when it comes to method. Also like many other spouses, she later felt bad about the argument and tried to reconcile. The only problem was that when she went buy her husband back and apologize, her neighbor refused to sell him.
9. Jacob Gasken
Jacob Gasken was born free only because his mother was a free woman. His father was still a slave at the time of his birth. This was rather common at the time, and the mother eventually wanted to buy Jacob’s father so that he would no longer have to work as a slave on a plantation. When Jacob grew older, his mother helped him to buy his father. The family was happy with this arrangement, although the father was technically still their slave until he attempted to do what all parents do: reprimand his son. This is when this story becomes notable.
One day, Jacob’s father scolded him after Jacob had misbehaved (as any good father would do). Jacob, a petulant, entitled boy, became so angry with his father that he sold him to a New Orleans trader and then later bragged to his friends and colleagues about sending his own father to be a slave on a plantation in Louisiana to “learn him some manners.”