Thursday, July 19, 2012

Diving Into. . .

File Box 1, File No. 1.4.Part II.1
Franklin, John Hope. "The Free Negro In The Economic Life Of Ante-Bellum North Carolina, Parts I & II," in The North Carolina Historical Review, Vol. XIX, No. 3, July 1942, pp. 239-259; and Vol. XIX, No. 4, October 1942, pp. 358-375.

Distribution of wealth

As I came to the end of the article, I was reminded of
something I had written in my application for the
NEH Unaffiliated Independent Scholar Fellowship, 2008. . . .

Page 370 displays a table entitled, FREE NEGROES HAVING PROPERTY VALUED AT MORE THAN $2,500, with the commentary,
While this table does not represent the average holdings of the free Negro in ante-bellum North Carolina, it suggests that there was a number of individual cases in which free Negroes rose to a position of economic independence, despite obstacles (p. 371).
The table contains the names, occupations and valuations of estates for fifty-three persons. Below is a table which I created to analyze the raw date within Franklin's work.

Occupation
Number
High
Low
Mean
Baker
1
$2,750
---
---
Farmer
32
20,816
$2,500
$5,601
Barber
2
4,400
3,550
4,025
Farm Hand
2
5,554
3,450
4,502
Cabinet Maker
1
4,000
---
---
Musician
1
3,100
---
---
Carpenter
3
36,000
2,500
14,167
Housekeeper
1
5,500
---
---
Unlisted
4
14,000
2,500
6,425
Confection
1
5,905
---
---
Wheelwright
1
8,150
---
---
Clerk
1
5,000
---
---
Blacksmith
1
2,800
---
---


Most of the free Negroes who owned property were possessors of small estates worth a few hundred dollars or less. . . . Craven County, with 1,332 free Negroes in 1860,had only 179 free Negro property owners. . . (p. 370).
This focus on the exemplary is exactly what I have chosen NOT to include in my work. Our society, made up of average people working side-by-side, is what forms the spirit of community. And, that is what I have chosen to research: the average family, their trials and struggles to form a better community, where family sticks together and neighbor helps neighbor.

Franklin continues. . .
On the whole, a larger number of free Negroes possessed some type of personal property, ranging from silver watches to farming tools. . . . But the poverty of the free Negro group can be seen clearly through this study of the value of the property of the group. They possessed an aggregate wealth of $1,045,643. When one considers that more than 30,000 people had to share in this wealth of slightly more than one million dollars, the realization of their plight is inescapable. The per capita wealth of the free Negroes of North Carolina was only $34 in 1860. Thousands were landless and without any kind of property. 
A second table reports the aggregate value of property owned by free Negroes in North Carolina by county. In 1860, Craven County had an aggregate of real estate valued at $29, 865, and of personal property, $21, 137.




No comments:

Post a Comment