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Slaves in the Family (1998)

de Edward Ball

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1,2942110,804 (3.9)32
Journalist Ball confronts the legacy of his family's slave-owning past, uncovering the story of the people, both black and white, who lived and worked on the Balls' South Carolina plantations. It is an unprecedented family record that reveals how the painful legacy of slavery continues to endure in America's collective memory and experience. Ball, a descendant of one of the largest slave-owning families in the South, discovered that his ancestors owned 25 plantations, worked by nearly 4,000 slaves. Through meticulous research and by interviewing scattered relatives, Ball contacted some 100,000 African-Americans who are all descendants of Ball slaves. In intimate conversations with them, he garnered information, hard words, and devastating family stories of precisely what it means to be enslaved. He found that the family plantation owners were far from benevolent patriarchs; instead there is a dark history of exploitation, interbreeding, and extreme violence.--From publisher description.… (més)
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Es mostren 1-5 de 21 (següent | mostra-les totes)
For someone likeyself who is interested in both American history and genealogy, this was a fascinating, though long read. Definitely recommended to others with similar interests. ( )
  stevrbee | Nov 7, 2020 |
I can only imagine how challenging it must have been to write this book and organize it. That being said, from a readers perspective, it was challenging to keep up with all the different family members and the time periods, because the author kept vacillating. I suppose he had to with each family. I think it would have been better for the pictures to coincide with the story of each member instead of having the pictures in three sections.
The book is comprised by a great deal of research including family oral history. I think anyone whom has worked on genealogy can attest that sometimes the oral history proves more accurate. I know personally an ancestor's grave stone got the date wrong based on the information in his son's book.
However, this book also has a lot of the authors opinions and presumptions/assumptions depending on the information.
There were some areas that especially stuck out for me:
pg. 223, a letter from elder Laurens to his son (at university in a northern state) tells his son of what he thinks George Washington's opinion would be about the blacks as soldiers; he'd want them as soldiers, but would balk at their freedom, because the owners would never accept a deal that would rob them of their property.
pg. 252, the caste system of France and redistribution of wealth destroyed them. (have we learned nothing from history?)
pg. 290 the author mentions the Irish have the same slave story of you could be bought, sold, whipped and/or raped.
pg. 308 The Northern tax (Tariff of 1828) (a catalyst of the civil war. (not mentioned in the book is the other tax in 1832 further enraging the southern states).
pg 346 according to Mary Ball's memoirs she and the other women in the family were first very frightened of the invasion of the Federal troops. They found that the (white) men were quite polite and asked for things. However, the black Federal troops came in and looted, smashed the fine China, tried to find the silver and even burned the plantation houses.
pg. 364 A Rev. Peter Wishers was interviewed and quite frankly it seems as though the author was trying to agitate him. The reverend wouldn't bit though and the author said he had black guilt. Then continues to say this man didn't even have a connection to his family. So why did Mr. Ball include this interview? I'm glad he did though, it showed how badly he behaved.
pg. 436 Muslim blacks in Africa explained their families sold people from other tribes, but sometimes even their own tribe for money. (greed)
pg 442 they said it was a long mistake by their ancestors. (however slavery still exists in Africa and in Sierra-Leone where these people were from. So their ancestors long mistake has not been corrected).
Overall it was a good book.


( )
  VhartPowers | Dec 27, 2018 |
I thought it was interesting that the early owners worked with the slaves, but the further removed the owners became from their slaves, the worse treatment the slaves received. The author did as good a job making amends as he could.

Every time I thought he should be wrapping things up, the author found another angle to examine. Very very interesting.
  barefootcowgirl | Jul 28, 2016 |
Absolutely remarkable work, especially in light of the recent South Caroline shootings. This is a highly readable account of the growth of slavery in one man's family.

South Carolina, and Charleston in particular was the major port where Africans were brought in to be sold as slaves. The author, who grew up knowing his family had large plantations and was part of a family who used to be very wealthy. But he was never taught about his family gained and kept that wealth. This is his investigative journey to finding out that his ancestral family was one of the largest slaveholders in the country, having up to 4000 slaves. As luck would have it, h is family kept records of their business, archived in several collections, and the author was able to piece together a history, and a genealogy of his white ancestors, and their black holdings. The author also seeks out the black and mulatto descendants of his family's plantations.

While we as Americans, know about slavery in our history, this work brings us closer to understanding it, and how it worked and the impact it left. This copy of the book which I received through the GoodReads program, is a 2014 revised edition of the 1998 work. It won the National Book Award, and I don't think enough superlatives can be attached to it. It was a work taking a lot of courage and understanding. ( )
  dreplogle | Jul 25, 2015 |
I listened to the abridged audiobook, which was okay but a little choppy, so I think I need to read the print book. ( )
  vnesting | Oct 26, 2014 |
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My father had a little joke that made light of our legacy as a family that had once owned slaves.
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Journalist Ball confronts the legacy of his family's slave-owning past, uncovering the story of the people, both black and white, who lived and worked on the Balls' South Carolina plantations. It is an unprecedented family record that reveals how the painful legacy of slavery continues to endure in America's collective memory and experience. Ball, a descendant of one of the largest slave-owning families in the South, discovered that his ancestors owned 25 plantations, worked by nearly 4,000 slaves. Through meticulous research and by interviewing scattered relatives, Ball contacted some 100,000 African-Americans who are all descendants of Ball slaves. In intimate conversations with them, he garnered information, hard words, and devastating family stories of precisely what it means to be enslaved. He found that the family plantation owners were far from benevolent patriarchs; instead there is a dark history of exploitation, interbreeding, and extreme violence.--From publisher description.

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