The Story: Colonial Slavery

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"At this time I was quite a small boy, and was sold to Mr. Hodge, a negro trader. Here I began to enter into hardships. After travelling several hundred miles, Mr. Hodge sold me to Mr. Gooch, the cotton planter, Cashaw county, South Carolina; he purchased me at a town called Liberty Hill, about three miles from his home. As soon as he got home, he immediately put me on his cotton plantation to work, and put me under overseers, gave me allowance of meat and bread with the other slaves, which was not half enough for me to live upon, and very laborious work. Here my heart was almost broke with grief at leaving my fellow slaves. Mr. Gooch did not mind my grief, for he flogged me nearly every day, and very severely."

– Moses Roper, Caswell County, N.C .

The colony also lacked the extensive plantation system of the Lower South colonies. When Carolina split into the North and South colonies in 1729, North Carolina had about 6,000 slaves, a fraction of the slave population of South Carolina. As the plantation system expanded across the Lower South, many North Carolina slaves were "sold south" to work on these large plantations. Slaves deeply feared this fate because it usually meant permanent separation from friends and family.

Because extensive records were not kept, and many existing records have been lost, we don’t know a great deal about the slaves of the North Carolina colony beyond basic information. By 1767, there were about 40,000 slaves in the colony. About 90 percent of these slaves were field workers who performed agricultural jobs. The remaining 10 percent were mainly domestic workers, and a small number worked as artisans in skilled trades, such as butchering, carpentry, and tanning.