To Have and to Hold

Slave Work and Family Life in Antebellum South Carolina

Title Details

Pages: 264

Trim size: 6.120in x 9.250in



Pub Date: 05/15/2016

ISBN: 9-780-8203-5037-0

List Price: $28.95


Pub Date: 01/01/1997

ISBN: 9-780-8203-1830-1

List Price: $48.95

To Have and to Hold

Slave Work and Family Life in Antebellum South Carolina

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  • Description
  • Reviews

Looking closely at both the slaves' and masters' worlds in low, middle, and up-country South Carolina, Larry E. Hudson Jr. covers a wide range of economic and social topics related to the opportunities given to slaves to produce and trade their own food and other goods—contingent on first completing the master's assigned work for the day. In particular, Hudson shows how these opportunities were exploited by the slaves both to increase their control over their family life and to gain status among their fellow slaves.

Filled with details of slaves' social values, family formation, work patterns, "internal economies," and domestic production, To Have and to Hold is based on a wide variety of primary and secondary sources, emphasizing wherever possible the recollections of former slaves. Although their private world was never immune to intervention from the white world, Hudson demonstrates a relationship between the agricultural productivity of slaves, in family situations that range from simple to complex formations, and the accumulation of personal property and social status within slave communities.

No reader will come away from this book without having reconsidered and reimagined much of the conventional scholarly wisdom surrounding the slave family. . . . Hudson merits praise for this provocative study.


An important contribution to slave studies . . . Although this volume is slender, the descriptions of slave life are thick and deep, rendering a more nuanced appreciation of both the hardships confronting slaves and the coping mechanisms of antebellum African Americans anchored on plantations.

—Journal of American History

About the Author/Editor

LARRY HUDSON is an associate professor of history at the University of Rochester.