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Modern Voices
Julie Winch on the economic impetus for kidnapping
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Q: What do these kidnapping rings say about the expansion of the cotton South and the spread of the domestic slave trade?
Julie Winch

A: I think it really shows the intense demand that there is for slave labor, particularly the labor of healthy young adults, on the part of many planters, particularly planters who are jut setting up in business. They've acquired some land. They need to get a work force as quickly as they can and as cheaply as they can. They're very often cut off from the regular urban centers where slaves are sold, and so they are really eager to take advantage of a slave trader who comes along with a bunch of fairly healthy looking slaves that he's willing to sell at an attractive price. And even if they suspected that these slaves were not legally slaves, I doubt most of them would have asked too many questions. Just needed bodies. They just needed workers.
Julie Winch
Professor of History
University of Massachusetts, Boston

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