Slavery By the Numbers

Total Numbers of Slaves in the US

5/19/20231 min read

"By 1860 two-thirds of the wealthiest Americans lived in the South. In 1860, out of a white population of some eight million, roughly ten thousand families belonged to the planter ‘aristocracy.’ Fewer than three thousand families could be counted as owners of over one hundred slaves."

There were 22 slaveowners in the South with over 500 slaves. There were 2,341 slaveowners of between 100 and 500 slaves. By far, the leading states of large slave workforces were Louisiana, South Carolina, Alabama, Mississippi, and Georgia.

Only one out of four white Southerners owned a slave or belonged to a family that did. During most of the antebellum years, almost half of the Southern slaveholders owned fewer than five slaves; 72 percent owned fewer than ten.

Quotation from David Brion Davis, Inhuman Bondage. Oxford University Press (2006).