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Sharon Ann Murphy
Providence College (Providence, RI 02918-7000)

Summer Stipends
Research Programs

[Grant products]

$6,000 (approved)
$6,000 (awarded)

Grant period:
6/1/2017 – 7/31/2017

Banking and Slavery in the Antebellum South

A book-length study of the financial links between southern banks and the institution of slavery in the United States during the nineteenth century.

Despite the rich literature on the history of slavery, the scholarship on bank financing of slavery is quite slim. My research demonstrates that commercial banks were willing to accept slaves as collateral for loans and as a part of loans assigned over to them from a third party. Many helped underwrite the sale of slaves, using them as collateral. They were willing to sell slaves as part of foreclosure proceedings on anyone who failed to fulfill a debt contract. Commercial bank involvement with slave property occurred throughout the antebellum period and across the South. Some of the most prominent southern banks, as well as the Second Bank of the United States, directly issued loans using slaves as collateral. This places southern banking institutions at the heart of the buying and selling of slave property, one of the most reviled aspects of the slave system. This project will result in the first major monograph on the relationship between banking and slavery in the antebellum South.