On the French Frontier 1700-1800
Background Information - African American slave peddlers

"Many slaves were sent from plantations to the towns of Mobile, New Orleans, Natchez, and Natchitoches to sell poultry, meats, vegetables, and milk on their owners' behalf. They also sold foodstuffs and other items independently of their owners whenever and wherever possible. The limited self-determination* for slaves that stemmed from the producing and trading of food had several advantages. It helped owners to maintain their slaves at a level of subsistence* minimizing hardship, death, and rebellion; it provided consumers with a larger quantity and wider array of foods than would otherwise have been available; and it gained for slaves some means of autonomy* from their masters."

Excerpt from: Daniel H. Usner, Frontier Exhcange Economy, William and Mary Quarterly, 44, 1987:567.

*Self-determination: the freedom to make choices for yourself.

*Level of subsistence: the amount of food, clothing, and shelter available to a person.

*Autonomy: independence.

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© Illinois State Museum 31-Dec-96