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Children of the plantation

From Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia

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 women who had been raped by white men, usually the owner or one of his sons or the plantation overseer.

This practice was so immense and commonplace, that genetic research in 1998 estimated that nearly 20% of the US Black (making them a mixed Afro-European group versus purely African) ethnic group's genetic contribution originates from Europe (much lower for non-US slave import origin such as Jamaican/Haitian).[1]

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.

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,[2] the "right of the lord", a term originating in the feudalism of medieval Europe.

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See also


  1. ^ Parra, Esteban J.; Marcini, Amy; Akey, Joshua; Martinson, Jeremy; Batzer, Mark A.; Cooper, Richard; Forrester, Terrence; Allison, David B.; Deka, Ranjan; Ferrell, Robert E.; Shriver, Mark D. (December 1998). "Estimating African American Admixture Proportions by Use of Population-Specific Alleles". The American Journal of Human Genetics. 63 (6): 1839–1851. doi:10.1086/302148. PMC 1377655. PMID 9837836.
  2. ^ Morrison, Toni (2017). The Origin of Others. Harvard University Press. p. 9. ISBN 978-0-674-97645-0.

Further reading

This page was last edited on 20 August 2021, at 08:24
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