Slave Sales:1775-1865, an Examination of Median Appraised Value and Geographic Distribution of Slaves in the U.S


The dataset used in this project, “Slave Sales: 1775-1865”, includes information that is numeric, textual, and geographic, which was used to create two data visualizations utilizing TableauPublic. There are thousands of people in this list from mostly Southern States, including Georgia, Louisiana, Maryland, Mississippi, North Carolina, South Carolina, Tennessee, and Virginia. To differentiate the states, there are thirty-six different counties, which seem to have some importance as to where slaves with certain skills are sold. In terms of numeric values, these fit into the year of sale, appraised value, and age columns. The year of sale column actually starts in 1742, with one entry, but becomes consistent after 1771, even though the title of the dataset begins with 1775, and ends in 1865. The minimum values for the other two columns both start at zero, but the maximums vary greatly. The maximum age of a given individual can go up to 99, but this is most likely a reporting error due to the fact that it is unlikely that someone could live to that age during this time period. The price for a person also depends on skills and other factors, and the highest price for a slave sometimes exceeded thousands of dollars (again, there was one outlier, a slave listed at $525,000, which would be more than $7 million when adjusted for inflation). The range of descriptive data also varies greatly. Gender is probably the easiest to describe as it follows a binary system, with a slave being either male, or female. The column titled “Skills”, however, is either left blank, or provides a short description about the person. These skills can either show if someone is a field-hand, which is the most common profession for slaves (excluding the “null” descriptor), or if they have specialized training as a carpenter, mechanic, or hairdresser. As stated above, skills determined how much a slave was typically worth, with unskilled laborers usually fetching a lower priced than their skilled counterparts. Issues do reveal themselves, as the large number of slaves with the nothing listed in their skill column create problems. This happens because the highest price of a slave with a skill listed is as blacksmith worth $3500, which is problematic, as appraised values continue to rise from here without any description of what the slave’s skills are. The last column, “Defects”, lists any physical or mental problems a slave might have. These include slaves suffering from things like a hernia, crippling injuries (an example: missing fingers, most likely due to a cotton gin), on the physical side of descriptors, or being deemed insane, or mentally unsound. There are also issues such as alcoholism (labeled as suffering from consumption), and other ailments that are strange (one slave apparently being a “dirt eater”). One interesting feature in this dataset is how there are labels for “boy” or “girl” when no other relevant information is listed for the slave. In cases like these, the age listed shows “0”, for both years and months. This may indicate that the person for sale has not been born yet, which adds another horrifying layer to this dataset, as even the unborn are for sale if this is true. Another possibility is that the data is incomplete, and that these are only typos or information that was excluded in the sales listing.

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Matthew Chamberlain Project Proposal

The dataset I will be working with is “Slave Sales: 1775-1865”. The data set describes the people in slavery, giving the viewer a description of where the sale posting is from, the gender of said person, the approximate age of the slave(there are some issues with this, but I’ll describe them later), any “defects”, pertinent skill, and the price of the person.

The dataset includes information that is numeric, textual, and geographic. There are thousands of people in this list from mostly Southern States, including Georgia, Louisiana, Maryland, Mississippi, North Carolina, South Carolina, Tennessee, and Virginia. To differentiate the states, various counties are also included, and these seem to have some importance as to where slaves with certain skills are sold. In terms of numeric values, these fit into the appraised value and age columns. The minimum values for both zero, but the maximums vary greatly. While the maximum age can go up to 99 (which is probably a reporting error of some sort due to the fact that it is unlikely that someone could live to that age during this time period), the price for a person depends on skills and other factors, and the highest price for an individual thousands of dollars (again, there was one outlier, with one listing reading 525,000, which would be more than $7 million when adjusted for inflation). The range of descriptive data also varies greatly. Gender is probably the easiest to describe as it follows a binary system, male or female. Skills, however, are either left blank, or provide only a little information about the person, saying that a slave is a laborer/field-hand, or on the other side of the spectrum, a mechanic. Then there are defects, which also account for a lot of blank spaces. These descriptors can describe real ailments such as a hernia, or crippling injuries, or just state superfluous information, like whether or not the slave is a boy, or a girl, even though it’s already listed.

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Great Awakenings and Anti-Catholicism in America

During the 19th century, many changes occurred in the United States. The Union was nearly torn apart when the South seceded and the Civil War was being fought. There was also a change in culture and industry. The United States began to transition from a WASP-y agrarian culture to one that was more industrial and less anglo-saxon, although this would be confined to much of the late 19th century. Christianity also began to change during this time too. As immigrants from Europe began to settle in the country, they brought different forms of Christianity. Irish Catholics in particular, would come to dominate Catholicism by the end of the 19th century, and the beginning of the early 20th century, especially in the Northeastern United States. However, there were some issues regarding the increasing number of Catholics in the United States, and anti-Catholic/nativist movements became increasingly prominent. It was during this time that evangelical protestantism began to appear in the country. Movements stemming from the Great Awakenings that occurred in waves during the 18th and 19th centuries were beginning to have larger affects on mainline protestantism. In this selection of scholarly works, these movements and demographic changes will be examined on a national, regional, and statewide scale.

In order to understand Christianity in the United States, it is necessary to discuss the religion of the colonies, and how religious diversification began to happen in the 19th century. In David, Wills’s Christianity in the United States, (specifically the chapter, “Colonies in the Atlantic World”) he lays a groundwork for the reader to understand the various sects of the religion as they have come to exist in the United States. Wills makes the case that in order to understand Christianity in the United States, it is important to know that it is rooted in the history of the Atlantic States (Wills, 5). This would make sense, as most of the voyages of exploration that occurred from the 15th century onward ended in the Americas, and thus would be the basis for the countries that would form out of this discovery. Wills makes the point that Protestants weren’t always the dominant group in North America, as many Catholics from Spain, Portugal, and France had already settled in parts of the continent by the early 17th century (Wills, 7). It wasn’t until the Dutch and the English began claiming territory that demographics began to change. When permanent settlements were established (Jamestown, Providence, the Massachusetts Bay Colony), British Christianity in particular began to grow (Wills, 7-9). Wills goes on to say that the three regions of the colonies (New England, Middle, and Southern) all had different defining characteristics. New England’s religious groups tended to support morality and social justice, while the Middle Colonies, which were more ethnically diverse focused on toleration and religious liberty(a by product of Quaker settlement, apparently) (Wills, 11-13). The South, in contrast with the other two, would resemble the colonies in New England, if not for the separation of religious groups based on race, and the fact that different religious traditions (Islam and traditional forms of African religion) were brought into the country by enslaved Africans (Wills, 13-14). As Wills continues, he writes about how there are disputes as to whether the United States was formed under the auspices of European Enlightenment ideals, or Great Awakening theology. While he doesn’t give a conclusive answer, he does provide evidence that the First Great Awakening was made more important retrospectively, than it actually was in the 19th century (Wills, 15). He also states that, under the leadership of Thomas Jefferson and James Madison, who were both deistically inclined, instituted religious freedom into the Constitution through the ratification of the First Amendment (Wills, 15). The actions here would have repercussions in the next century, as not everyone was overjoyed with this foundational principle. While Wills’s book is a great introduction, its brevity causes some issues, as he doesn’t go as in depth as other authors do.

The next book, Religion in America, by Denis Lacorne, deals with similar issues as Wills, but with greater depth (see above criticism). Concentrating on the chapter, “Evangelical Awakenings” and “Bible Wars”, Lacorne picks up where Wills ended, and deals with the religious revivals that occurred in the United States during the 18th and 19th centuries. Lacorne describes how the democratization of religion challenged Puritanical religious thought in the 19th century, and would affect relations between religion and politics for decades to come, and would play a role in causing revivals (Lacorne, 44). These Awakenings also disproportionately affected Protestant sects, with Baptists and Methodists enjoying greater growth than older sects (Presbyterian and Episcopalian, Lacorne, 44-45). When the Great Awakenings began, philosophers and writers, for example Alexis de Tocqueville, saw the rise of evangelical Protestantism as a passing phenomenon that would not affect many people, which would be incorrect, as Lacorne writes that Tocqueville underestimated the power of these new sects (Lacorne, 55).
In the following chapter, “Bible Wars”, Lacorne shifts from just the Great Awakenings and rise of evangelical Christianity to the conflicts that arose between Catholics and evangelicals during the 19th century. While Catholics in the colonies were in the minority of Christian denominations in the late 18th century, there was an explosive amount of growth during the 19th century as Irish, Italian, and German Catholics immigrated to the United States. By the 1850s, there were over a million Catholics in the country, up from about 35,000 just sixty years prior (Lacorne, 64). Anti-Catholic sentiment already existed due to English propaganda, which regarded the largely Irish immigrants as papists who threatened American democracy (Lacorne, 65). Combined with bad press and evangelical Protestantism, anti-Catholic riots began to occur throughout the 1830s, with Irish neighborhoods in Boston being looted, while a convent in Charleston was set ablaze by rioters (Lacorne, 65-66). Riots would continue into the next decade, culminating in a period of a few months in Philadelphia (Kensington to be exact), where Irish neighborhoods were, again, attacked and looted (Lacorne,77). A source of the issues between Protestants and Catholics in the United States was over which translation was used. According to Lacorne, Irish Catholics in particular favored the Douai Bible, while Protestants used the King James Version (apparently there are major differences, hell if I know though, they all sound the same to me, Lacorne, 69). One of the key events in the dispute over Bibles occurred in 1859, when an Irish student at a public school refused to recite the King James version of the Ten Commandments. As a result, his knuckles were whipped until they bled, and when other Irish students stood in solidarity, they were expelled (Lacorne, 72-73). This led to legal battle over whether or not the student should have been punished so severely, but it was eventually decided that refusing to recite the King James commandments was a violation of student obligations in Boston public schools (Lacorne, 73). While the court case was a failure, the student became a martyr in the eyes of Catholics around the country, and would be used as a symbol against anti-Catholicism (Lacorne, 77). While Lacorne makes the case that anti-Catholicism was part of the reason for violence on the part of Protestants, he also adds that there were other reasons for this occurring. The Irish, during the mid-19th century, were seen as low wage workers who were stealing jobs from hardworking Americans (that sounds familiar), not only threatening the political and social stability of the United States, but also the economic livelihood of “native-born” citizens (Lacorne, 78). Compared to Wills’s book, Lacorne’s is much more in depth, as stated earlier, but there are some issues, one of which was the fact that he goes out of order, listing the events of the “Bible War” before the Kensington riots, even though the it happened in 1859, while the riots occurred in 1844. There is also a problem with the fact that when he describes the criticisms of the Great Awakenings, he uses only four sources, Tocqueville, Fanny Trollope, Michel Chevalier, and Gustave Beaumont, leading to a skewed perspective as to what philosophers and foreign visitors thought of the revivals of the 19th century.

Coinciding with the rise of Protestant Evangelicalism was an increase in anti-Catholicism. While the Great Awakenings and nativist thought may not have been mutually exclusive, Charles Hambrick-Stowe makes the case for there being a direct connection between the two. According to Hambrick-Stowe in his article, “Charles G. Finney and Evangelical Anti-Catholicism”, this movement was rooted in animosity towards the “official disestablishment of churches and rising religious diversity” (Hambrick-Stowe, 39). This would make sense, as during the 18th century, the rise of Enlightenment Era thought in the United States, coupled with the immigration that occurred in the 19th century, may have been disconcerting to Protestants who felt that their status as majority was in danger of being threatened.
The man at the center of this article, Charles G. Finney, was a minister from the Burned-Over-District of Western New York (a phrase that he coined, coincidentally). The Burned-Over-District, which encapsulated at least a dozen or so counties in New York, was a hotbed for religious revivals in the 19th century (including the establishment of Mormonism), one of which involved Finney. The preacher felt, with regards to Catholics, that they were bound by outdated tradition that prevented the dissemination of the Gospel in America (Hambrick-Stowe, 43). While Finney never explicitly attacked Catholicism (concentrating more on converting and “saving” them from sin, Hambrick-Stowe, 44), his rhetoric was important in fostering the development of anti-Catholic sentiment in the United States later in the 19th century( Hambrick-Stowe, 41). In this way, Finney was more subtle than his contemporaries, such as Lyman Beecher, who claimed that the Catholic Church was “the most skillful, powerful, dreadful system of corruption to those who wield it” (Hambrick-Stowe, 42), instead, he appeared to be preparing Protestants for future “battles” with Catholics. While Hambrick-Stowe dedicates half of this article to anti-Catholicism, he makes the point that Finney disliked organizations other than the Catholic Church, including German Protestants, political parties, and masons, feeling that they all presented similar threats to evangelical Protestantism as the Catholics (Hambrick-Stowe, 46-48). In terms of criticism of this article, there are some issues with length, being thirteen pages means it isn’t that long, and sometimes the scope is too narrow. While Finney is an interesting figure from this movement, including more about his contemporaries would have been useful.

In conclusion, the books that were chosen for this project all present views on Christianity in America. Wills and Lacorne provide a context through which the religious makeup of the country can be viewed, but in two different ways. Wills writes in much broader terms than Lacorne, encapsulating hundreds of years in a few pages. In contrast, Lacorne takes a more detailed approach, writing about specifics in regards to the Great Awakenings, and the animosity between Protestants and Catholics in 19th century America. Both styles have their strengths, and are useful, but the amount of information provided by Lacorne is much better. To compare with the other two, is Hambrick-Stowe’s article, which, as stated previously, was had a more narrow view than previously expected. It might be easier to say that Hambrick-Stowe’s piece is a combination of the other two, mostly because, while he deals with specifics, like Lacorne, the amount of attention he dedicates to certain subjects is similar to Wills.

Hambrick-Stowe, Charles E., “Charles G. Finney and Evangelical Anti-Catholicism”, U.S Catholic Historian, Volume 14, No.4 (1996) 39-52.
Lacorne, Denis, Religion in America: a Political History (New York, Columbia University Press, 2011).
Wills, David W., Christianity in the United States: a Historical Survey and Interpretation (Notre Dame, University of Notre Dame Press, 2005.

Digital History Questions-3/1, This All Feels Vaguely Orwellian

First, I apologize for how late this is, I had some trouble understanding the more technical aspects of the material.

The first article, Social Media and Academic Surveillance was an incredibly interesting read. Dorothy Kim describes how in the digital age, the issue of privacy, how ethical it is to use data that researchers do not have explicit permission to access, and how women of color are treated in the digital world. She begins her article by talking about Twitter as being similar to the panopticon, but it’s her description of Twitter as being inhabited by digital bodies, and thus, being afforded the same freedoms as people would be afforded in the physical public that is compelling, and I agree that data ethics needs to be addressed. In talking about these ethical dilemmas, Kim uses a few examples.

The first couple of cases are more recent. The study on “Black Twitter” at USC Annenberg, was troubling in how the researchers, rather than informing students involved with the study that their Twitter feeds were being examined, declined telling them. This led to obvious backlash, and a response from the students who had their information taken. The next case, which involves a website being plagiarized by students attending the California College of Arts. In this instance, the students claimed that the project, developed by the Save Wiyabi Mapping Project, was their own, when it really wasn’t. While the group that originally created the project was able to get the CCA work taken down, it was still able to win an award.

The third case relates to a woman named Henrietta Lacks, an African American woman who had cells harvested from her while she was battling cervical cancer. The cells, which were harvested in 1951, eventually became the basis for many advances in medicine (including the polio vaccine). This information was hidden from Lacks’s family until the 1970s, as the harvesting was done without the consent of Lacks or any of her relatives. The resulting controversy eventually led to a change in the NIH’s rules and guidelines, adopting an “informed consent” model.

Kim concludes her article by going back to the earlier parts of her piece, stating that while Twitter is still a digital panopticon, it has the ability to respond.

The second set of articles are about creating connections between people through the use of metadata, in this case, Paul Revere. Writing from the position of a data analyst in the 18th century, Kieran Healy, an associate professor of sociology at Duke. This is where things started to get confusing, at least for me. It seems that, instead of creating a social “networke” in a more traditional way, Healy worked with colonial membership rosters as a way of creating connections. This led to him finding Paul Revere, who bridged a number of various groups when the data was compiled. This shows that while connections may be difficult to find, they exist if one knows where to look.

The next set of articles relates to the program Gephi, and they provide tutorials on how to use it.First, as way of visualizing data, Gephi is pretty interesting. It takes spreadsheets and makes them into colorful diagrams, which can be hard to decipher (if I’m being honest). Seeing the connections as a visual is also useful, and much easier than sifting through data. The tutorials were helpful for starting the program, but I did run into problems finding certain functions on my end. If I can get over these issues, I’m sure Gephi will be useful in the near future.

The final set of articles deals with information similar to the previous groups. In the case of Dr. Kane’s “A Company of These Women”, she examines the interactions between female members of the Iroquois and other Native Americans and European settlers. She begins by giving some background on how Native history is presented, especially as it relates to families, and how the structure of family changed after colonial settlers arrived. She then goes on to describe the difficulties in studying indigenous history, which is the lack of significant data. What follows is a reclamation of Native history from a settler narrative that barely acknowledged it.

The first of three sets of data that she uses provide a glance into how important Iroquois women were to connections between different groups of people. While the author, Evert Wendell, declined giving women much agency (either leaving them unnamed, or being the wife of someone), this doesn’t affect the connections between the women and others, and in fact, they are central to different networks. The second set, the Ulster Network, is similar to the Wendell network, except that women (with the exception of one) don’t occupy roles as bridges between groups like they do with Wendell’s. It’s actually the opposite, with husbands being more influential than their wives. The final data set, taken from an Anglican Church register, is the largest of the three. There are problems with this data, as the narrow scope can be both enlightening and limiting. Women have similar amounts of influence, but they occupy a larger variety of positions.

The final article examines data relating to the marriage of Etienne Hebert, a French immigrant to America, and Elisabeth Philipe, the half-French, half-Native American daughter of an established farmer. What follows is an interesting examination of the different kinds of connections that were made when these two people got married. Much of the article is about the debate about the true use of social network analysis. Morrissey, the article’s author informs the reader that rather than being used for understanding an individual, SNA relates more to the actual network it represents.

1. Why are actions on Twitter more likely to be used against academics than actions in the physical world? Is posting a tweet that might be controversial any different from attending a protest or rally that deals with a similar issue?
2. As seen in the USC Annenberg case, where is the line drawn in how far we should go to get information that may be relevant to a project?
3. Obviously, metadata can be a useful tool for an historian, but it is not without faults. What are some of the advantages and disadvantages of using metadata?
4. How useful is a program like Gephi in organizing and displaying data? Are there any drawbacks to the program that might cause issues (other than the technical ones that I mentioned)?
5.How can digital history be used to remedy gaps in historical narratives, especially as they relate to women of color?

M. Chamberlain Census Charts

The first chart in this series is one that examines the differences in the number of men and women in the clothing industry in 1850. While the men still make up two-thirds of the workforce in this case, women still account for about a third. When this is compared with other types of industry, the numbers are much lower, and for the most part, women aren’t even a part of the workforce. This is why I chose to make this into a chart because the other industries didn’t have many women in the workforce, which makes the clothing industry the exception. However, just because women make up a fair portion of the labor force in the clothing industry doesn’t mean they were paid the same amount. On the contrary, with a few exceptions women make much less than their male counterparts. In the second scatter-plot chart, the wage disparity becomes clear. This is seen in the highest median wage for men and women. In the case of women, the highest median wage was $165, which is dwarfed by the highest men’s median wage of $465. This trend is seen in the rest of the data when applicable, as women are either paid less, or are excluded entirely from certain industries (alcohol, construction, luxury, and transportation are completely male, while food, household, and publishing have a couple of women, but are effectively also entirely male dominated). If I was able, I’d like to see data from 1860, just to see whether or not women gained more of a foothold in other industries beyond clothing.

The second set of charts relates to the makeup of industry in Albany in 1850. At this point in time, Albany was dominated by two industries (according to the data): clothing and manufacturing, which accounted for 28% and 27% respectively. In contrast, the weakest industry in Albany was publishing, which made up less than one percent of the labor force. This may show that during the mid-19th century, there was more of a need for clothing and manufactured goods than paper. This could be explained with the fact that at this point in time, the Erie Canal was still a major economic powerhouse in New York. The canal would have impacted trade, and made the products of some industries more desirable than others. When the median number of workers is examined, there isn’t a great difference between most of the industries. When the median number of workers was taken from the median number from each industry, the number was about six, so there isn’t a large amount of deviation in this case. This shows that in most cases, Albany was dominated by smaller shops operating with a handful of employees. While there were some larger businesses, small shops seemed to have been more prevalent.

Most of the charts the data produced were easy to understand, the only one that may produce some confusion was the scatter-plot of men’s vs women’s wages. This was probably my fault because I did run into some technical difficulties when doing the functions for the wages. However, in most cases, the information is clearly shown, and it is easy to draw conclusions from the charts.

Chamberlain Walking Tour Preliminary

This is all tentative, but for my walking tour, I’d like to focus on churches in Downtown Albany. In addition to being architecturally significant in some cases, churches served as centers of culture for respective groups, and played important roles as gathering places for some powerful people in New York’s history. For example, Theodore Roosevelt attended services at the Dutch Reformed Church when he was governor of New York. The tour itself would discuss the history of each church, while also touching upon information (if available) about congregations, religion in New York State, and architecture where applicable.
St. Mary’s Catholic Church

st mary's church  early 1900s  albany ny
St. Peter’s Episcopal

View of Downtown Albany from the Hudson in the 1860s (the Cathedral of the Immaculate Conception is pointed out)

Albany Ny Skyline - 1862    1860s
Dutch Reformed Church

second dutch church beaver street  Albany NY  1800s