• South Carolina
  • About
  • Advertise
  • Contact Us
South Carolina

South Carolina African Americans – Charles Manigault's Plantation Gowrie

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

Charles Manigault's Gowrie – A Starting Point
Or, Discrepancies in the Lives of a Master and His Slaves

One South Carolina planter referred to his rice plantations on the Savannah River as "gold mines." And with profit rates as high as 26%, they were. But only for the planters. For the African-American slaves who worked on them, they were places of dread, where death was the most common of all companions.

Gowrie was one such plantation. It was bought by Charles Manigault in 1833. Manigault has been described as a "gentleman capitalist" and "cosmopolitan." He spoke French and prided himself on his wealth and social status. He invested $49,500 in Gowrie at its purchase; by 1861 the plantation was worth $266,000 – proving that it was, in fact, a gold mine.

Manigault's records have been well preserved, and through them we are able to get a good idea of what life was like for not only for him, but for his slaves. As you will see, the difference between these was so great, it was often that of life and death.

For example, in 1841 Manigault bought two carriage horses and had them shipped from New York to South Carolina at a cost of $540. His order to his agent was, "Damn the expense." This is the same amount of money it would have cost him to build five two-room frame houses for 40 of his 90 or so Gowrie slaves, with each house costing about $108. In comparison, Marshlands – the house where Manigault spent his winters in the 1850s – had cost $10,000 to build in 1810.

Likewise, in 1859 Manigault paid $160 for a gold watch and chain. This was more than he paid to provide his Gowrie slaves with tobacco and molasses – their equivalent luxuries.

But Gowrie had a horrific child mortality rate. Ninety percent of the children died before they reached age 16. And this estimate doesn't take into account stillbirths or miscarriages. Between 1846 and 1854, there were 52 slave births at Gowrie and 144 slave deaths, for a net loss of 92 African Americans. In spite of this loss in "capital" (the dead slaves were worth at least $44,000), Gowrie still managed to yield a 4% return on investment between 1848 and 1854. And this was not unusual.

Why did so many slaves die? The answers are simple – poor health, poor shelter, poor food, and brutal work.


SC Gifts
SC Newsletter

Charleston Hotels
Columbia Hotels
Greenville Hotels
Myrtle Beach Hotels

Charleston Real Estate
Columbia Real Estate
Greenville Real Estate
Myrtle Beach Real Estate

Charleston Jobs
Columbia Jobs
Greenville Jobs
Myrtle Beach Jobs


SC Arts & Entertainment
SC Businesses
SC Calendar of Events
SC Churches
SC Cities, Towns
SC Colleges, Universities
SC Consumer Help Desk
SC Counties
SC Education
SC Elections
SC Facts & Firsts
SC Genealogy
SC Gifts
SC Government, Politics
SC Health, Medicine
SC History
SC Hotels
SC Jobs
SC Libraries, Museums
SC Maps
SC Movies
SC News
SC Organizations
SC Photo Gallery
SC Plantations
SC Pronunciations
SC Real Estate
SC Restaurants
SC Schools
SC Sports, Recreation
SC Tax Guide
SC Tides
SC Tourism
SC Vacation Rentals
SC Web Cams
SC Weddings