Banking on Slavery in the Antebellum South


ACLS Fellowship Program


History and Classics


Despite the rich literature on the history of slavery, the scholarship on bank financing of slavery is quite slim. This project demonstrates that banks willingly accepted slaves as collateral for loans, underwrote the sale of slaves, and sold slaves as part of foreclosure proceedings. Bank involvement with slave property occurred throughout the antebellum period and across the US South. Some of the most prominent southern banks as well as the Second Bank of the United States directly issued loans using slaves as collateral. This places southern banking institutions at the heart of the buying and selling of slave property, one of the most reviled aspects of the slave system.