88 Southern slaveholders who owned more than 300 slaves
In 1860, 29 of the 88 Southern slaveholders who owned more than 300 slaves were rice planters. No fewer than seven of them on plantations on the Waccamaw. At the very apex of slave ownership were the 14 men who owned more than 500 slaves; nine of them were rice Planters, and three of those planted on the Waccamaw. one of those three, Joshua Ward, was the only planter in the whole South who owned more than 1,000 slaves. One quarter of southern white families owned slaves in 1860 is a neutral and objective statement of fact. If attention is confined to the states that eventually became part of the Confederacy, 31% of white families owned slaves in 1860. In South Carolina and Mississippi, almost half the white families owned slaves; in four more states of the Deep South, 1/3 or more of the white families owned slaves. The fairest kind of comparison, he argues, is with other forms of property ownership in other periods. For example, in 1949, only 2% of American families held stock worth $5,000 or more – roughly equivalent in today’s terms to the worth of one slave. No doubt by the 1980s the percentage will have increased considerably, but not to the point where it would come anywhere close to the figures for slave ownership in the Old South. “Slavery” says Olsen, “appears a good bit less oligarchical in several significant economic respects 20th century free labor capitalism. The ownership of slaves were spread among a remarkably broad proportion of the white population, and the extent of this investment was Central to Southern White Community before, during and after the Civil War.