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Title: Aging in Bondage: Slavery, Debility, and the Problem of Dependency in the Antebellum South
Authors: Lerner, Alexandra (Alix)
Advisors: Hartog, Hendrik
Contributors: History Department
Keywords: Aging
Legal History
Subjects: American history
African American studies
Issue Date: 2017
Publisher: Princeton, NJ : Princeton University
Abstract: Both the history of old age and the history of poverty are fundamentally entwined with the history of caretaking; poverty, like old age, has generated both public and private conflict over the parameters of care, and over those responsible for its distribution. Historians have long interrogated the nature of care for the poor and, more recently, have turned their attention to the elderly. Often those two groups have overlapped, and, together have formed the demographic perhaps most in need of maintenance. This dissertation takes that key demographic – the old pauper – and adds another dimension to the historical problem of its support: slavery Even though proslavery advocates and abolitionists alike emphasized the singularity of slavery – its uniqueness, its difference, its special character – old slaves were pushed into traditional categories of poor relief when it came to the caretaking obligations that slavery supposedly imposed. To be ‘chargeable’ became a central keyword not only in the development of poor relief but also in the legal history of slavery (and manumission). Just as overseers of the poor were worried about residents becoming charges on the county, slaveholders and administrators were worried about slaves becoming charges on the estate. In fundamental ways, the laws, customs, and practices of poor relief informed and helped constitute the ways that lawmakers, slaveholders and southern apologists understood and enacted care for old slaves. And as slavery expanded, care for old slaves also informed and helped shape the development of southern poor relief. Using poor relief as a lens into slavery reveals that the caretaking obligations of both slaves and the poor shared similar and overlapping histories.
Alternate format: The Mudd Manuscript Library retains one bound copy of each dissertation. Search for these copies in the library's main catalog:
Type of Material: Academic dissertations (Ph.D.)
Language: en
Appears in Collections:History

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