Lofty Dreams-Dark Necessities: Piedmont Planters and the Commodification of the Enslaved in EarlyNational Virginia

Matthew Grace
This article explores the circumstances surrounding Virginia Piedmont planters and their decisions to adopt various human commodification strategies in the early national period. Coming out of the American Revolution, Virginia’s Piedmont gentry, in general, expressed an exclusionary racist antislavery position. Men like Thomas Jefferson, James Madison, James Monroe, and John Hartwell Cocke believed slavery an evil harmful to Blacks, whites, and the overall Republic. They hoped the South might gradually emancipate its slaves and resettle...
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