Melvin Patrick Ely F'07

Melvin Patrick Ely
William R. Kenan Jr. Professor of Humanities
History
College of William & Mary

ACLS Fellowship Program 2007
Professor
History
College of William & Mary
A Horrible Intimacy: Whites and Enslaved Blacks in Old Virginia

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.