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How may slaves make up a Plantation?

The southern states antebellum considered a plantation to be an agricultural land with more than 20 slaves. A common definition of what constituted a plantation is that it typically had 500 to 1,000 acres (2.0 to 4.0 km2) or more of land and produced one. The vast majority of plantations did not have grand mansions centered on a huge acreage. These large estates did exist, but represented only a small percentage of the plantations that once existed in the South.  Although many Southern farmers did enslave people before  emancipation  in 1862, few enslaved more than five.

President Abraham Lincoln  issued his preliminary  Emancipation Proclamation  on September 22, 1862. Critics of the proclamation, both North and South, claimed Lincoln was trying to incite  slave rebellions , which had been a persistent fear for white slaveholders in the South since the American Revolution. In order to prevent events similar to Nat Turner’s revolt in 1831, the Confederate Congress passed a Second Conscription Act, which included a piece of legislation that would  become known as the “Twenty Negro Law.” It exempted from military service one white overseer for every 20 enslaved people on a plantation, “to secure the proper police of the country.” This would allow enough white males to stay home to defend against a so-called domestic insurrection.

The law is resisted by poorer white Southerners (the vast majority) who own fewer than 20 slaves or none at all. As in the North, which exempts from its own draft any white male who pays $300 or finds a substitute to take his place, many Southerners resent a system of conscription that allows wealthier men the option of avoiding service. The popularly-named "Twenty Negro Law" remained in place, with periodic modifications, until the Confederacy surrendered and ceased to exist in 1865.

Locations of  Known Plantations

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If the name of the plantation is unknown, submit what information is known about the enslaver/owner. Example: Samuel Parker Turner and wife Sarah Perinder Rowe of Troup County Georgia - name of plantation unknown.

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State and County Maps

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Plantations Special Collection

 Most of the locations are counties within states. However, Louisiana counties are parishes, and prior to 1870, South Carolina counties were called districts and parishes.

Some collections have names that do not appear in the surname index. This means that the collection was named after the person who donated the material, but that the collection did not contain materials of interest from or about the donor’s family.

Source: Index to Records of Ante-Bellum Southern Plantations Locations, Plantations, Surnames and Collections SECOND EDITION, JEAN L. COOPER

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Ante-Bellum Souther Plantation Collection or Repository - PDF

Series A, Selections from the   South Carolina Library

Series B , Selections from the South Carolina Historical Society

Series C , Selections from the Library of Congress

Series D , Selections from the Maryland Historical Society

Series E , Selections from the University of Virginia Library

Series F, Selections from the  Duke University Library

Series G , Selections from the   Center for American History, University of Texas at Austin

Series H , Selections from the Howard-Tilton Library, Tulane University , and the Louisiana State Museum Archives

Series I , Selections from Louisiana State University

Series J , Selections from the Southern Historical Collections, University of North Carolina, Chapel Hill

Series K , Selections from the   Colonial Williamsburg Foundation Library, The Shirley Plantation Collection, 1650-1888

Series L , Selections from the   Earl Gregg Swem Library, College of William and Mary

Series M , Selections from the Virginia Historical Society

Series N , Selections from the Mississippi Department of Archives and History

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