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A rare instance of a mulatto baby portrayed next to the baby's darker mother. John Brown, about to be  hanged, kisses the baby. Louis Ransom, 1863, reproduced as a Currier & Ives print.
A rare instance of a mulatto baby portrayed next to the baby's darker mother. John Brown, about to be hanged, kisses the baby. Louis Ransom, 1863, reproduced as a Currier & Ives print.

"Children of the plantation" was a euphemism used during the time of slavery in the United States, to identify the offspring born to black female slaves and white men, usually the slave's owner, one of the owner's relatives, or the plantation overseer. Rape of female slaves occurred on many plantations. These children were born into slavery, through a legal doctrine known as partus sequitur ventrem. They were classified as mulattoes, a former term for a multiracial person. The one drop rule meant that they could never be part of white society. Some of the fathers treated these children well, sometimes providing educational or career opportunities, or manumitting (freeing) them. Examples are Archibald and Francis Grimké, and Thomas Jefferson's children by Sally Hemings. Others treated their multiracial children as property; Alexander Scott Withers, for instance, sold two of his children to slave traders, where they were sold again.

Alex Haley's Queen: The Story of an American Family (1993) is a historical novel, later a movie, that brought knowledge of the "children of the plantation" to public attention. Edward Ball's Slaves in the Family (1998), written by a White descendant of slave owners, describes this complex legacy. Toni Morrison wrote that this sexual usage of slaves was known as droit du seigneur,[1] the "right of the lord", a term originating in the feudalism of medieval Europe.

See also

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References

  1. ^ Morrison, Toni (2017). The Origin of Others. Harvard University Press. p. 9. ISBN 978-0-674-97645-0.

Further reading