In Reply to: Re: A Respectable Trade posted by Kate Porter on October 18, 2000 at 14:55:43:
: Ownership of a person is slavery. However, I think that when Sarah demands the baby from Francis, it is an act of desperation, not one of a slave-master claiming her property. Sarah's only hope is that the baby will grow up to take over the business and continue the Cole lineage. She comes of her own accord to claim the child, telling Francis that Josiah does not remember her nor the baby.
: Francis is not a slave to either Sarah or Josiah, however, the baby's father is a slave. The baby is in danger because of his parentage. If Francis had never had a child and she had wanted to leave, she could have walked away freely, without fear of punishment. With the baby, she is escaping, running away from the evils society would subject her and her child to, in order to save her baby's life. She is also saving her child from slavery.
Aren't we confusing the issue of whether Francis was a slave (she was not) with the
question of children being slaves (and to whom)? Even if Francis did not face the
particular kind of unfreedom that goes with slavery (and was unfree in other nonslave
ways), the child could still have been chattel. Indeed, if the child was Mehuru's (funny
how so many of us call him Moses, huh?), then it should have legally been the chattel of
Josiah. If the child was Josiah's then it could have been Josiah's serf, although perhaps
not his slave (he couldn't have sold his own son could he?). Food for thought.
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