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The National Debate
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Library of Congress, Prints and Photographs Division [LC-USZ62-16178]

Underwood & Underwood

The Debate about Breeding

Located in the heart of the rice-growing region, the four-hundred-acre Hermitage Plantation outside of Savannah, Georgia, had the reputation of being a "breeding" farm, where people were raised for market. Abolitionists may have exaggerated the extent of systematic breeding in the Upper South for sale in the Deep South, but testimonies of former slaves and slaveholders confirm that owners showed great interest in increasing their "crop" of slaves.

"Many indirect inducement [are] held out to reckless propagation, which has a sort of premium offered to it in the consideration of less work and more food . . . in short, as their lives are for the most those of mere animals, their increase is literally mere animal breeding, to which every encouragement is given, for it adds to the master's live-stock and the value of his estate."

Frances Ann Kemble, Journal of a Residence on a Georgia Plantation in 1838-39 (New York: Harper & Bros., 1863). Kemble's husband, Pierce Butler, owned five hundred slaves who were sold in the second largest auction in the history of the country.

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