Melvin Patrick Ely
- College of William & Mary
This study examines relations between whites (slaveholders and non-slaveholders) and enslaved blacks. A thirty-year-old debate separates historians who say nineteenth-century American slavery was founded on paternalism from those who contend that the institution commodifed its victims rather than recognize their humanity and individuality. This study shows, largely by examining court records of Prince Edward County, Virginia, that acknowledgement of blacks' humanity went tragically hand in hand with their treatment as merchandise in the internal slave trade.