Final (Part One)

Dataset Description
The 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 dataset 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 that 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 that is 50 years old with no defects or skills is also priced highly (generally speaking) at around $550 –more than a woman that 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.

Data Visualization/Story

The visual data that I chose to use to describe the slave sales data set is a graph. Graphs with entities separated by color are more appealing to a person’s eye in general, and their mind automatically notices the difference in volume of each color, or lack thereof. For example, if a person sees a pie chart that is 75 percent red and the remainder is green, they’ll automatically wonder what the red area represents and why it’s so plentiful. On the other hand, colors in bar graphs create distinctions, but the length of the bars is what tells all. Where the z-axis is placed (on the bottom, side, or top of the graph) also has an impact on what viewers’ perception. An x-axis that’s on top as oppose to on the bottom typically has an adverse effect at the first glance compared to if it was on the bottom because it looks as if numbers are decreasing as the bars decrease in length.
I chose the bar graph lay out because it makes it seem as if certain states were forging ahead of others. Essentially, leaving them in the dust of the money they spent on slaves. This scale isn’t the typical graph, but I do think that it gets the point across visually without having to see the prior spread sheet to analyze the data. I chose the deep burgundy color because it wasn’t alarmingly red, but the burgundy resembles blood and this tugs on views heart strings –especially in the context of slave sales.
The context surrounding the slave sales data set is the rise of the cotton kingdom. The spike in Louisiana slave purchases may be due to the expansion of slavery and cotton production, which makes sense. The raw data set itself shows that men in their prime are bought for higher prices (keep in mind that man’s prime is longer than a woman’s). Women, on the other hand, are of more value when they are of age to bear children and their value probably depreciates so in a time when the goal is to increase production, men are probably the more ideal choice. Though child bearing and reproduction is important, this timeline probably seems longer to a person that wants to capitalize off of cotton production high while it’s hot –wait nine to ten months for a mother to give birth and a few more years for that baby to be mature enough to pick cotton themselves. Women were still being bought at an increasing rate, while men, as we see in Louisiana, were in higher demand.
In terms of sequence, the range of the slave sales data set covers the rise of the cotton kingdom which was vaguely 1830-1861. Therefore, the increase in millions spent by the states is associated with the rise in cotton demand. Aside from natural reasons, the cotton revolution is the main reason that states in that time period spent hundred off dollars to buy quality slaves because they’d prove vital in capitalizing off of the cotton kingdom.

First Visualization Process Documentation
The first visualization that I created to represent the slave sales data set described the amount of females versus males that southern states purchased in the approximately 100 year time frame that the data covered. My choices in color and design reflected what I aimed for the visualization to portray.
In terms of my color choices, I used a deep red color because slavery in the U.S. wasn’t a cheerful time for African Americans, and its main purpose was to highlight how states valued specifically male and female slaves. In class, I saw another graph that used inversion to portray the creator’s point of view on the data –death tools in Iraq. This tactic caught my eye because the creator didn’t change the data, they changed the way it was presented. Though I didn’t use inversion, I rotated the bar graph so that the bars stemmed from the left side as oppose to growing from the bottom as in conventional bar graphs. With this format, it looks as if the bars are racing each other in a sense, and Louisiana is surpassing them all.
I chose to compare how the states valued males versus females to expound upon a broader idea –male slaves often had higher value from a slaver master’s perspective. Through my research that is expounded upon in my argument, gender wasn’t the only thing that effected a slave’s appraised value –age played a part as well. Young women that of age to bear children were valued as high as men in their physical prime.
A slave’s value wasn’t only what they were worth at the time, but what services they could provide for the slave master in the long run. For example, a 19 year old man would be valued more than a 19 year old woman because after the young woman’s child bearing years are over, her value decreases. On the other hand, a man’s body had more longevity in terms of field work and things of that nature that were of value to slave owners. This was displayed through the bar graph because all of bars representing the sum each state spent on either gender were higher for males. Slave masters made an investment in both male and female slaves because of obvious reasons such a reproduction, but females also has value outside of child bearing. Women often worked inside of the slave masters homes tending to his children in addition to her own children, cooking, cleaning, and things of the like. Slave masters also took female slaves as their concubines to satisfy their sexual desires.
All in all, this visualization for the slave sales data set provides a stepping stone for all that my argument encompasses. The position of the bars gives readers insight into my argument because males are clearly valued more than females, but women don’t fall too far behind men for most states except for Louisiana. Viewers see that Louisiana doesn’t follow the common trend and it leaves them wondering why that is so.

“Quizlet QWait(‘dom’,function(){document.getElementById(‘PrintLogo’).setAttribute(‘src’,””)});.” History Unit Two Flashcards. Accessed May 12, 2016.

Slavery –the practice or system of owning slaves (Random House Inc., 2016). Such a system served as a pillar of the U.S. economy and social structure. By 1850, slaves in the U.S. were worth 1.3 billion dollars. Or in other words, American slaves were worth one fifth of the entire nation’s wealth (Goyette, 2014). Such information makes sense of the data that is displayed in the slave sales data set. It’s easy for people to think about how rich America’s history is, but how often do these people think about the hands that made it great? From the Caribbean to the mainland slaves hands were goldmines. Cotton wouldn’t have boomed without people to grow, harvest, and pick it. Tobacco would be a delicacy if lives weren’t stolen and then bought in order to harvest it. These statements ring true for many of the goods produced by slaves. This may be contrary to popular belief, but the American Economy must have depended on slavery for the better part of its history before the start of the 20th century. As a result, slaves were in high demand. But the question is –which slaves were in high demand and why?
According to measuring worth, a slave’s value was truly the value of the how much they’re expected to produce (Williamson and Cain, 2011). In other words the value of a slave was not really the slave’s value per say, but the value of the service that they could provide. For example, an elderly woman wouldn’t be expected to produce much, especially if she has any outstanding physical condition (or “defects”) such a missing finger or cataracts. As we see in this data visualization, males were clearly expected to produce more because generally, more money was spent on males. In Louisiana, males that were between the ages of 15 and 44 had the highest values and men within the 24-35 age-range held the peak values. As for females, those in the approximate age range of 14-33 years old held the highest value. This is no surprise, since these are typically a female’s peak child-bearing years (Williamson and Cain, 2011). Slaves weren’t only valued for what they could produce in the fields, but for their skills as well. Premiums were paid for slaves that had artisan skills such as cooking, carpentry, and blacksmithing, among other domestic skills. On the other hand, a slave’s value was depleted if they had characteristics or deformities that would inhibit their production such as drinking, being crippled, or being a frequent runaway (Williamson and Cain, 2011).
The spreadsheet itself uses appraised values that are generally under one thousand dollars. However, if we were to convert these prices to what they’d be today, the average range for which a slave would be sold would be 12 thousand to 176 thousand dollars. In other words, a slave was worth anywhere between the price of buying a used car and a mortgage. For example, a slave that would be sold for $400 in 1850 would be worth about $82,000 today. (Williamson and Cain, 2011). For slave owners, perhaps foregoing purchasing a home or another luxury item was worth investing in a few decades worth of slave services that would have a major return in the long run.
Though all states in the slave sales data set purchased slaves to some degree, the massive amount of capital spent on both female and male slaves by Louisiana is strikingly higher than the other states. Louisiana was most likely subject to the other factors such as the cotton boom that justified the desire across the country for slaves in their prime. If this is the case, why was Louisiana so much more passionate (according the data visualization) in the buying of slaves? At the top of the 18th century, Louisiana was the resting ground for only ten people of color. However, the French imported about six thousand slaves in Louisiana (Whitney Plantation). After the Seven Years War that concluded in 1763, Louisiana was occupied partly by Britain and partly by Spain. Subsequently the territory was reopened to large scale imports of slaves. By 1795, about thirty years later, the amount of slaves ballooned to almost 20,000. A few years later in 1807, the Atlantic slave trade was prohibited. However, this didn’t stop those that were persistent about sustaining slavery. Thousands of slaves were smuggled into the territory from Africa and the Caribbean illegally in addition to the domestic slave trade in the upper southern part of the U.S. If we fast-forward towards the end of the data visualization in 1860, there were over three hundred thousand slaves in Louisiana and nearly 20,000 free people of color.
In the time period that the slave sales data set spanned, Louisiana had avid reasoning for demanding so much slave labor. While the territory was under French rule, the services that slaves provided varied and the territory was highly dependent on slave labor. Such tasks included cooking, hulling rice with mortars and pestles, carpentry, and raising cattle (oxen, sheep, cows, and poultry among other animals). Female slaves also took care of their master’s personal task of caring for their children. Though aiding in raising their children mad a masters life easier, the mass importation of slaves gave masters a new lease on life. Wealth was easily in a master’s reach with the slave trade (Whitney Plantation).
Coupled with indigo production, the mass importation of slaves gave masters a more prestigious standard of living. Another reason for Louisiana’s higher dispensed capital for slaves is indigo production under Spanish rule. Females were a main part in raising indigo crops and males extracted them –which makes sense of why the territory spend large amounts of capital on both females and males (Whitney Plantation).
Slaves were a part of American culture for centuries, and part of that time is covered in the slave sales data set. The U.S. depended on slaves for their free services in order to make capital. So much so, that they were willing to shell out what would now be thousands upon thousands of dollars on slave labor because of its returns. Where would the U.S. be on a global scale without slave labor? –A question that can answer itself.


Slavery. Unabridged. Random House, Inc. (accessed: April 25, 2016).

Goyette, Braden. “5 Things About Slavery You Probably Didn’t Learn In Social Studies: A Short Guide To ‘The Half Has Never Been Told'” The Huffington Post. October 23, 2014. Accessed April 26, 2016.

Whitney Plantation. “Slavery In Louisiana.” Slavery In Louisiana. Accessed April 26, 2016.

Williamson, Samuel H., and Louis P. Cain. “Measuring Worth – Measuring the Value of a Slave.” Measuring Worth – Measuring the Value of a Slave. 2011. Accessed April 26, 2016.

Leave a Reply