Slave names

JAMES A. LANDAU Netscape. Just the Net You Need. JJJRLandau at NETSCAPE.COM
Thu Dec 13 03:06:34 UTC 2007

On Tue, 11 Dec 2007 10:17:19 zone minus 5 "Joel S. Berson" <Berson at ATT.NET> wrote:

At 12/11/2007 09:59 AM, Jonathan Lighter wrote:
>Since none of us are quite old enough to remember the period in
>question, the perception that slaves were often given Classical
>names ("Caesar" and "Pompey" in particular) must come from books or
>films.  Perhaps "assumption" would be a better word.
>   Despite the proof that some slaves were indeed given these names,
> the  few numbers I've seen  don't indicate that they were actually
> "prevalent" at any time. There could have been a thousand more
> prosaically named slaves for every "Caesar."

True -- I have not tried to count the "Adam"s and "Jeremiah"s or the
"John"s and "Mary"s, and the census records aren't reliable for
race.  (Although the names in the index to Lorenzo Greene's "The
Negro in Colonial New England" are perhaps useful evidence, and I did
count and compare those names that were "Classical".)  But I am
planning to look at the 1937 article mentioned here previously, and
see what kind of data it has.

Reply:  One of the main purposes of the Census was to count the number of slaves so as to apply the Three Fifths Rule, so one would imagine that the Census was as reliable on counting slaves as it was on counting anyone else.

On Tue, 11 Dec 2007 11:23:29 -0500 zone minus 5  Wilson Gray <hwgray at GMAIL.COM> wrote:

But, of course, "the loyal, docile slave" is itself a stereotype. It's
like speaking of "the loyal, docile inhabitant of a concentration
camp." Except that none of the slaves was in his country of origin.

Reply: One need only look at the number of contrabands during the Civil War to see that Dr. Gray is correct.  Right on, Wilson!

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