Shackles and Servitude: Jails and the Enslaved in Antebellum Savannah

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Lisa Denmark


Between the May and October of 1826, runaway slave ads were placed in the Savannah Republican asking for 22-year-old Isaac to be found and taken to the Savannah Jail. Isaac’s owner, like many other slaveholders at this time, relied on the Savannah jail to help him maintain control of his slave labor. Savannah, Georgia’s jail was used not only to imprison criminals but also as a holding facility for Black people who broke the city's curfew and for runaway slaves. Slaveowners were also able to send their enslaved workers to jail for an extended stay or a whipping administered by the jailor for a fixed price. The use of the Savannah jails, I argue, shifted slavery from a private to a publicly-funded institution. My presentation will focus mainly on how the jails were responsible for controlling enslaved men and women within the city and how the lives of enslaved individuals were shaped by these institutions.

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Creative Commons Attribution-Noncommercial-No Derivative Works 4.0 License
This work is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-Noncommercial-No Derivative Works 4.0 License.

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