White Women Slave Owners, Economics, and the Law

By Terri L. Snyder | Black Perspectives

In a treatise published in 1681, Anglican clergyman Morgan Godwyn, who had ministered to parishes in Virginia and Barbados, recounted the public flogging of an enslaved woman. Godwyn disliked the naked display of cruelty, but he was even more distressed by the presence of an English “mistress” among the crowd. “To the shame of her sex,” he wrote, this white and likely slave-owning woman stood alongside the “men and boys.” She did not deign to blush as she gazed upon the bondswoman who was stripped to the waist and whipped repeatedly.1

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