Pamela’ s Final Proposal

The first dataset that I’ve chosen to analyze and evaluate is entitled “Slave Sales 1775-1865”. It includes geographic, time range, as well as numeric data. The geographic data that the slave sales data set includes is the location from which the slaves’ information was recorded –Chatham, Georgia. The better part of slave sales consists of numerical data, but there is some revealing textual data. The columns are labeled date entry (anywhere from 1790’s to about 1863), sex, age in years, age in months, appraised (the price they can be sold for), skills, and defects. One of the most revealing/astonishing columns is the defects column. The simple use of the word defect reveals how the person that recorded this data set feels about and views slaves. Defect is a word use in the context of things being made in a massive quantity in which one of them has a glitch that affects their function, for example. People are not things that are produced in mass quantities that are classified as normal or not, but the general mentality at this point (geographically and sequentially) in history is revealed simple by the title of this column. If a slave master of another white person had a hernia which was considered a defect of slaves, they’d be considered ill, or otherwise because they were classified as what they are –people and not objects, or property. The numbers describe the ages and prices of male and female slaves. Whereas, the text describes what skills some slaves had, and on the other hand, what “defects” slaves had. These rows directly describe slaves in the year range of 1775-1865. The ages of these slaves range from birth/a few months old to about 79 years old or so. Slave masters probably didn’t figure to place senior citizens in the market for slave trade after a certain age, because input into keeping the person alive most likely is more or equal to the output they’d receive from them.
The data presented in Slave Sales 1175-1865 are all related. For example, males are priced higher than females. Males usually have more years in which they can work before their bodies start to decline, and they ate not restricted to just one type of work. In addition, males are best at things that bring in the most revenue –such as field work, for example. A woman’s body declines quicker than a man’s body. In addition, there may be a few days in which a woman can’t work because of child-bearing. Women may not work as long hours as men because they’re the ones that cook for their families. In another sense, both women and men that are “in their prime” so to speak are also worth more. For example, a female slave age sixty is worth $50, while a female that is sixteen years old is worth $500, as is a 30-year-old woman. A woman who is 60 years old is post-menopausal most likely, can’t breastfeed, and has fragile bones, among other things. Surprisingly, the 16-year-old and 30-year-old are worth exactly the same and neither has any skills or defects listed. Both of these women, and women in their age range in general are of age to be child-bearers, which slave masters may see as a skill. In terms of slavery, child-bearing brings forth more slaves and in some instances, children from the slave master. Slave masters can also add these women to their list of mistresses. Women that are of age to have children age are most likely expected to breastfeed the slave masters children as well. These abilities are exclusive to women of age to bear children. Therefore, these women are worth more monetarily.
A man who is 50 years old with no defects or skills is also priced highly (generally speaking) at around $550 –more than a woman who is in her prime. Men are probably more valuable to slave owners because they can produce the higher amounts of product for longer periods of time because of their stamina. A 50-year-old slave in 1848 is probably a lot or active than your average 50-year-old today. These men can still have children with younger women (increasing the slave population) and do field work for most of their lives. They serve a dual purpose for a longer period of time. Historically, at that point in time the 50-year-old could have very well been born into slavery and as a result is accustomed to slave labor, its excruciating pain, extended hours, and mental and physical abuse.

One thought on “Pamela’ s Final Proposal

  • April 11, 2016 at 9:33 PM

    Very, very good observation re: “defects.” Please make sure to bring this up with the other folks working on this dataset, and this is a great point to explore if you decide to do a visualiztion with the defects data.

    You’ve got some very good observations in your second section, but be careful to not overstate correlation as causation. That is, just because you can see a relationship between two things doesn’t necessarily mean that one causes the other–a lot of what you’re getting at in your second section would more properly be in your further research section of the final paper, because you’re just not going to be able to show the mindset or intentions of the white enslavers from the data you have to hand. There’s certainly suggestions there, but not a clear cause-and-effect; sometimes overstating an argument’s evidence can weaken it just as much as not providing enough evidence to start with.

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