john, how could you?

it’s stories like this that lead to comments (taken from various youtube videos i’ve made) like this :

-mixed people r racist and would love 2 blacks extinct and wiped of the planet!
-Bi racial  my ass,these people are black when they get through talking.Stop running from your blackness and them white folks that you are trying lick up under are calling you nigger behind your backs.More videos we see on youtube or myspace,will thousands of video blogs from these coons hating they’re blackness and fronting like they’re special because the have one parent that is white and the other black,that bull shit and these coons know it.
-Bi-racials almost ALWAYS lean toward their white side.
Look at the pics behind you> the top two are white people!
everyone esle is insignificant. I see why Blacks are attacking all you racists
for the harm you’v done!

all i can say/speculate is “sign of the times,” and “survival of the fittest,” and his karma sure did catch up to him in the end… 

i wonder if his children were mulatto by virtue of carruthers’ mulatto-ness alone, or was kitty also a mulatto.  doesn’t matter.  just curious.  i also wonder who owned him.  it doesn’t seem to be his father or the neighbors whom he apprenticed… maybe it was the father though.  i’ve read this four times and just haven’t a clue.  ah, history…

John Carruthers Stanly: From Slave to Slave Owner

by 

The story of John Carruthers Stanly, a former slave who gained his freedom, only to become the largest slaveholder in Craven County, North Carolina.

John Carruthers Stanly
1774-1846
Black Slaveholder

Stanly, born a slave in 1774, was the son of an African Ibo woman and the white prominent merchant-shipper John Wright Stanly. He was apprenticed to Alexander and Lydia Stewart, close friends and neighbors of his father.  They saw to it that John received an education and learned the trade of barbering.  At an early age, they helped him establish his own barbershop in New Bern.  Many of the town’s farmers and planters frequented his barbershop for a shave or a trim. As a result, Stanly developed a successful business.  By the time he reached the age of twenty-one, literate and economically able to provide for himself, his owners petitioned the Craven County court in 1795 for his emancipation. However, he was not completely satisfied with the ruling of the court and in 1798, through a special act, the state legislature confirmed the emancipation of John Carruthers Stanly, which entitled him to all rights and privileges of a free person.

Between 1800 and 1801, Stanly purchased his slave wife, Kitty, and two mulatto slave children. By March 1805, they were emancipated by the Craven County Superior Court. A few days later, Kitty and Stanly were legally married in New Bern and posted a legal marriage bond in Raleigh. Stanly’s wife was the daughter of Richard and Mary Green and the paternal granddaughter of Amelia Green. Two years later, in 1807, Stanly was successful in getting the court to emancipate his wife’s brother.

Some politically correct Court Historians end the story here, if they acknowledge the existence of black slaveholders at all.  What a noble thing, to purchase and emancipate one’s own family!  But there is much more to the story.

After securing his own and his family’s freedom, Stanly began to focus more on business matters. He obtained other slaves to work for him.  Two of them, Boston and Brister, were taught the barbering trade. Once they became skillful barbers, Stanly let them run the operation while he used the money they helped him earn to invest in additional town property, farmland, and more slaves.

Through his business acumen, Stanley eventually became a very wealthy plantation owner and the largest slaveholder in all of Craven County. He profited from investments in real estate, rental properties, the slave operated barbershop, and plantations from which he sold commodities such as cotton and turpentine.

Stanly’s plantations and rental properties were operated by skilled slaves along with help from some hired free blacks. To improve his rental properties in New Bern, he used skilled slaves and free blacks to build cabins and other residences and to repair and renovate these properties. During the depression of the early 1820s it was slave labor that kept Stanly economically stable.

The 1830 census reveals that Stanly owned, 163 slaves. He has been described as a harsh, profit-minded task master whose treatment of his slaves was no different than the treatment slaves received from white owners. Stanly’s goal, shared by white southern planters, was on expanding his operations and increasing his profits.

During the early 1820s, Stanly’s wife, Kitty, was taken seriously ill.  She became bedridden and, despite careful attention by two slave nurses, she died around 1824. It was at this same time that Stanly began to face a series of financial difficulties.  His fortune began to plummet when the Bank of New Bern, due to the national bank tightening controls of some state and local banks, was forced to collect all outstanding debts. Unfortunately, Stanly had countersigned a security note for John Stanly, his white half-brother, in the amount of $14,962. Stanly was forced to assume the debt. This, along with his own debts forced him to refinance his mortgages and sell large pieces of property, including slaves. When these options did not resolve his economic woes, he resorted to mortgaging his turpentine, cotton, and corn crops, as well as selling his barbershop, which had been operating continuously for forty years. Without a steady flow of income, his fortunes continued to decline.  In 1843, his last 160 acres of land were sold at public auction. Three years later, at the age of 74,  John Carruthers Stanly died.  At the time of his death he still owned seven slaves.

John Wright Stanly House, New Bern, North Carolina

richard dereef

I wanted to know more about this “colored slave owner” after reading that small bit about him in the gullah tour article.  There is more information out there than I’d expected.  I wish I could see a photograph of his Caucasian and Indian (American) parents.  The New York Times article truly fascinates me.  First of all, I’d love to know who wrote it!  Secondly, it’s nice to hear (although there’s nothing nice about the sick and twisted system) that there were legitimate and acknowledged mulatto children.  But that nice feeling quickly disappeared when I searched for more information on Isabella.  I’ll include that in a separate post.

[Richard DeReef]

Richard Edward DeReef was one of the richest black men in Charleston. He had a Wharf at the end of Chapel Street, was in the “woodage business” (wood), and owned rental properties, most of which are located on the East side of Charleston. Because of his dark complexion he would have never been accepted into Charleston’s elite mulatto society but he claimed to be of Indian descent, and he had money.

IMAGE: ON RIGHT — Richard Edward Dereef (1798-1876), a free black wood factor and real estate investor, built this small two story frame single house sometime after he purchased the site in April, 1838. The site was part of a large lot, extending to Calhoun Street, on which Dereef erected several buildings, of which only this house remains. Dereef, a native Charlestonian, was one of the wealthiest men of the free black community. He and his son, Richard, Jr., had a wood factorage business on Dereef’s Wharf at the foot of Chapel Street, and lived nearby on Washington street. By 1867 Dereef had conveyed this property, apparently built for rental purposes, to Margaret Walker, a black woman.
(Stockton, unpub. MS.) SOURCE

COLORED SLAVE OWNERS.; One Family of Mixed Blood in Charleston Owned Forty Negro Servants.

May 26, 1907, Sunday

To the Editor of the New York Times:

Truth is stranger than fiction, and had not the information of the ownership of slaves by colored citizens of Charleston, and elsewhere, been sent forth by such an authority as The News and Courier, the statement would have been regarded as incredible. But The News and Courier has not stated nearly all the truth which is, according to your confession, surprising to you, and, according to your belief, surprising to many others in the North.

The prevalent views, State documents, Congressional debates, and lecture courses bearing upon the general subject render it difficult of belief that the proclamation of emancipation by Mr. Lincoln reduced many colored people of the South, and especially in the City of Charleston, from a state of affluence and competence to a condition of need, if not of poverty.

But such was the case.

Those slave owners were not called “negroes,” but “colored people,” as they were generally of mixed blood- sometimes of Caucasian and African; sometimes of Caucasian and Indian; (American.)  Many of the colored people of Charleston had no African blood whatever.  The question you ask, and The News and Courier failed to answer, is:  How did those people come into possession of their slaves- by inheritance, gift, or purchase?  The answer is, By all these ways.  They were generally the children of rich planters who, in the early days of the coast settlements, established themselves in lower South Carolina, with Charleston as the centre of operation.  These children were regarded as such, and not as illegitimate of slaves.  They bore the name of the father with recognition and as by right.  They were also educated.

Upon the death of the father these children would come, by inheritance, into possession of the estate, including beasts of burden, slaves, etc.  There was a very large number of free colored people in Charleston in the eighteenth century.

An interesting article on this subject may be found in the January issue of The Southern Workman.  Some of those who owned slaves in years before the war were by name De Reefs, McKinlays, Westons, Hollaways, Thornes, and Howards.  There are descendants of some of those people in  New York and Brooklyn to-day.  There is information enough at hand on this subject to fill a book, but let me relate you one story which may prove interesting.

There was a rich planter in Charleston of the name of Fowler.  He took a woman of African descent and established her in his home.  Whether there were a pledge of relationship or form of ceremony is not of record, but it was known that he had no other family.  There was a daughter born in that home to whom was given the name of Isabella.  But the planter insisted upon it that all persons should know her as Miss Fowler.  She grew to womanhood, and was married to Richard De Reef, a young man of Caucasian-Indian blood.  At the time of her marriage her father presented to her as a wedding gift a plantation and a sufficient number of slaves to work it.

The News and Courier says that two colored Charlestonians had each fourteen slaves, but the records of the family showed that at emanicpation Mrs. Isabella De Reef liverated forty instead of fourteen.

In another thing the News and Courier is wrong- that is, in saying those free persons of color had no political privileges.  The De Reef brothers- Richard and Joseph- born, respectively, in 1798 and in 1802, voted on reaching their majority, and ever after.  Some others may have enjoyed the same privilege, but there are colored men in Charleston to-day, and some now living elsewhere, who could claim the right to vote on the “grandfather clause”;  these were never enfranchised by an amendment to the Constitution of the United States.

A former Charlestonian.

New York, May 23, 1907.

click HERE for a link to a copy of the original NYTimes article