Edward Ball tells the story of southern slavery through tracking the history of the Balls, prominent landowners, rice-planters, one or two of them slave traders, and big slave owners in a southern family in dispersal and decline. In 1698, a planter named Elias Ball arrived in South Carolina from Devon, England, to claim an inheritance to one half of a plantation. By 1865, the Ball family of South Carolina owned over a dozen plantations along the Cooper River near Charleston. The crop was Carolina Gold - rice. The empire was grown with seeds from Madagascar and slave labour purchased on the Charleston Docks. By the time the civil war ended, nearly 4,000 people had been enslaved by the Balls. Descendents of the Ball slaves may number as high as 11,000 today.
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Writer Edward Ball opens Slaves in the Family with an anecdote: "My father had a little joke that made light of our legacy as a family that had once owned slaves. 'There are five things we don't talk about in the Ball family,' he would say. 'Religion, sex, death, money and the Negroes.'" Ball himself seemed happy enough to avoid these touchy issues until an invitation to a family reunion in South Carolina piqued his interest in his family's extensive plantation and slave-holding past. He realized that he had a very clear idea of who his white ancestors were--their names, who their children and children's children were, even portraits and photographs--but he had only a murky vision of the black people who supported their livelihood and were such an intimate part of their daily lives; he knew neither their names nor what happened to them and their descendants after they were freed following the Civil War. So he embarked on a journey to uncover the history of the Balls and the black families with whom their lives were inextricably intertwined, as well as the less tangible resonance of slavery in both sets of families. From plantation records, interviews with descendants of both the Balls and their slaves, and travels to Africa and the American South, Ball has constructed a story of the riches and squalor, violence and insurrection--the pride and shame--that make up the history and legacy of slavery in America.
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Book Description Farrar, 1998. Hardcover. Book Condition: New. book. Bookseller Inventory # 149019483