White Slaves, African Slave Traders, and the Hidden History of Slavery

White partus slavery in the USA

In Lawrence Tenzer's book, The Forgotten Cause of the Civil War, White partus slavery (slavery of people who were part-White, including those who were predominantly of White ethnicity) in the USA is discussed. The revelations of this groundbreaking book have been highly praised by reviewers.

    "Tenzer explains that in the antebellum South, the children of slave mothers were slaves from the moment of birth. Even though miscegenation lightened skin color, virtually white slave children were still considered mulattoes and remained slaves nonetheless, even after an endless number of generations went by and all discernible Negroid traits were long gone. A good example is a case he reports in which a slave woman who was one sixty-fourth black was on the auction block. One of her great-great-great-great grandparents was black. Not all slaves in the South were black, and this phenomenon of white slaves, whites with a distant black ancestor, was to have unexpected political consequences.

    A large number of white slaves escaped to the Northern states hoping to pass into free white society, and slave catchers went North looking for them. This posed a direct threat to white people living in the North because under the provisions of the Fugitive Slave Law of 1850, runaway slaves could be reclaimed without due process, which in effect allowed for free whites to be mistakenly seized. ...such Southern political power opened up the potential for slavery being nationalized, and as such the very real possibility existed that enslavement could be extended to the lower class of white laborers as well. Lincoln himself made reference to slavery "regardless of color" during a speech he gave in Chicago on December 10, 1856. Lincoln also spoke of white slavery in other speeches, all of which Tenzer has fully documented. Plate 9 in his book shows an 1856 Republican party handbill which clearly states in capital letters,, "Slavery is right, natural, and necessary, and does not depend upon difference of complexion. The laws of the slave states justify the holding of white men in bondage." Illustrations which depict actual white slaves and other historical documents having to do with white slavery provide enough proof to convince even the most skeptical reader that white people were slaves in the American South and that white slavery was indeed a cause of the Civil War.

    ...white slavery with the fear it engendered certainly qualifies having contributed to the deep-rooted friction which existed between the free and slave sections of the country. Tenzer offers an original thought-provoking perspective to our understanding of Abraham Lincoln and pre-Civil War politics along with a unique bibliography with many items which have never appeared in modern scholarship. Of particular importance is the fact that this fully-documented book is the first to explain why Northerners went to war to end slavery without granting blacks full civil rights after that war was won."

Tenzer has documented contemporary references to White partus slavery in the Southern states of the USA.

    "accounts of white slaves were published during or after the Civil War. Reverend John H. Aughey lived in the South for eleven years and had both white and black congregations. He told of preaching to slaves, some with red hair and blue eyes, a third of whom were just as white as he was. Dr. Alexander Milton Ross attended a slave auction in New Orleans where many of the slaves were "much whiter" than the white people who were there. In Lexington, Kentucky, Reverend Calvin Fairbank described a woman who was going to be sold at a slave auction as "one of the most beautiful and exquisite young girls one could expect to find in freedom or slavery.... being only one sixty-fourth African." After the Union had won the Battle of New Bern, North Carolina in 1862, Major General Burnside assigned Vincent Coyler to be superintendent of the poor. Coyler expressed disbelief at the complexions he saw. "The light color of many of the refugees is a marked peculiarity of the colored people of Newbern. I have had men and women apply for work who were so white that I could not believe they had a particle of negro blood in their veins."

    The memoirs of Chesnut, Aughey, Ross, Fairbank, and Coyler were published during or after the Civil War. Many other accounts were published all through the period before the Civil War in which travelers and visitors to the South made note of the white slaves they saw on plantations and at slave auctions. Their expectation, of course, was to see slaves who were black or brown. On seeing white slaves for the first time, they often expressed surprise at how white those slaves really were."

The issue of part-White, or mostly-White slaves, was found to be repellant to many American citizens in the northern states of the USA, and raised both the spectre of northern Whites being wrongly seized as runaway slaves and of the reintroduction of White slavery to the northern states, and thus became one of the causes of the American Civil War.[90]

White Slaves, African Slave Traders, and the Hidden History of Slavery