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Almost 40% of Slaveowners in America Were White Women

White woman slave owner in America

White women had a much bigger role in American slavery than most people think. In fact, historian Stephanie E. Jones-Rogers says that slave‑owning women were sophisticated economic actors who directly engaged in and benefited from the South’s slave market.
In her book They Were Her Property: White Women as Slave Owners in the American South, Jones-Rogers makes the bold argument that because women typically inherited more slaves than land, enslaved people were often their primary source of wealth.

In fact, not only did white women often refuse to cede ownership of their slaves to their husbands, they employed management techniques that were as effective and brutal as those used by slave‑owning men. White women actively participated in the slave market, profited from it, and used it for economic and social empowerment.

This is truly a narrative that forces us to rethink the economics and social conventions of slaveholding America, and there are many narrative sources, legal documents, and financial records to prove it.

According to an article published on History.com, "George Washington owned enslaved people at his Mount Vernon home... but it was his wife, Martha, who dramatically increased the enslaved population there. When they wed in 1759, George may have owned around 18 people. Martha, one of the richest women in Virginia, owned 84."

This is just one of many examples with similar stories!