Date Awarded

2021

Document Type

Thesis

Degree Name

Master of Arts (M.A.)

Department

History

Advisor

Hannah Rosen

Committee Member

Simon Middleton

Committee Member

Christopher Grasso

Abstract

Virginia Society’s Response to Revolution Era Manumission and Emancipation Legislation Through Petitions, 1782-1806 Using manumission petitions filed by or on behalf of enslaved Virginians seeking freedom, pro-manumission and emancipation petitions proffered by religious organizations, and anti-emancipation petitions submitted by local enslavers and politicians, this study examines how Virginians, both White and Black, free and enslaved, responded to Virginia’s 1782 manumission act. This law facilitated the liberation of thousands of people in bondage during the first twenty-four years of the early republic period. My analysis highlights a contentious period in Virginia’s early history – a period that began with tenuous hopes of emancipation for the state’s enslaved Black community and ended with the entrenchment of slavery within Virginia society in less than thirty years. Fancy Fantasy: An Examination of the Antebellum Fancy Trade The fancy girl trade, the trade in generally young and light-skinned, enslaved women and girls for sex and concubinage, represented one of the most profitable niche markets within the domestic trade of enslaved people in early republic America. With the use of a wide variety of primary sources such as newspaper advertisements, personal correspondence, and autobiographical narratives, this study ties together the geographically expansive nature of the fancy girl trade, explains the exploitative culture of the trade, details market practices and profitability, and most-importantly provides accounts of the enslaved women and girls abused within this system.

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