Jim Rhetta on “Slavery & Slave Ancestry”
Jim’s two-part presentation started with Slavery, a Socioeconomic System. It discussed the economic conditions that created slavery, the comparative value of slaves, and the emerging financial forces on slavery. The South was unaware that the increasing amount of currency in circulation, growing immigrant-fueled labor pool, and changing social values were threatening the economic viability of slavery. These emerging socioeconomic forces would have eventually made slavery unprofitable had the Civil War not been fought.
The second part was on Tangled and Incomplete, Tracing Slave Family Histories. It presented the difficulties of researching African-American family histories due to the forced illiteracy in slavery, limited census data, and paucity of travel, legal, and property records. It includes the family history of Jim’s Great-Grandfather’s slave-holders as well as both sides of his family. The value of oral traditions and histories were revealed in this 40-year search of his family history.