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The Chattel PrincipleInternal Slave Trades in the Americas$
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Walter Johnson

Print publication date: 2005

Print ISBN-13: 9780300103557

Published to Yale Scholarship Online: October 2013

DOI: 10.12987/yale/9780300103557.001.0001

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The Interregional Slave Trade in the History and Myth-Making of the U.S. South

The Interregional Slave Trade in the History and Myth-Making of the U.S. South

(p.117) 6 The Interregional Slave Trade in the History and Myth-Making of the U.S. South
The Chattel Principle

Michael Tadman

Yale University Press

This chapter addresses the problems posed by the domestic slave trade due to its curious place within southern history. This problem is especially apparent to those seeking to portray slavery as a benign and paternal institution. In antebellum polemics about the slavery controversy, white southern propagandists pretended that the trade was of only marginal importance and that slave traders were social outcasts: in the post-slavery years, the hiding of the slave trader became a compulsory ingredient in the promotion of the plantation legend. This chapter looks beyond these rationalizations and tries to discover how it was possible for the slaveholding society of the South to maintain its benevolent self-image and at the same time take part in a massive slave traffic that terrified slaves and destroyed many of their families.

Keywords:   domestic slave trade, paternal institution, antebellum polemics, slavery controversy, plantation legend, slaveholding society, slave traffic

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