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South Carolina – African-Americans – Child Mortality in the Slave Population

Also see: African-Americans - 1525-1865 Main Page

Written by Michael Trinkley of the Chicora Foundation

They All Goes So

Charles Manigualt's plantation Gowrie wasn't the only plantation to suffer an extreme child mortality rate.

Englishwoman Frances Kemble, whose husband Pierce Butler owned a rice plantation on the Altamaha River in Georgia, became famous for her Journal of a Residence on a Georgian Plantation in 1838-1839. This book describes her traumatic confrontration with slavery and the society that supported it.

In 1839 she had a conversation with nine of the female African-American slaves who worked on her plantation, Butler Island. All were still in their childbearing years. She found that these nine women had had between them 55 children, or an average of over 6 each. Five of the children were stillborn, 12 were miscarried, and 24 had already died. In other words, out of 55 children, only 14 were still alive. As one slave explained, "I've lost a many; they all goes so."


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