Enslavement in Georgia
Enslaved Black people were publically bought and sold as property without regard for their families. This is an advertisement for a slave depot in Columbus, Georgia.
Courtesy of Columbus State University. Archives, Columbus Whitewater Historical Sites.
Most enslaved people in Georgia worked on plantations and farms that cultivated cotton. Cotton gins, like this one in Dahlonega, made it possible to quickly remove seeds from raw cotton, thus increasing demand for slave labor in the fields.
Courtesy of Chestatee Regional Library System
Many enslaved people ran away seeking freedom and an end to their brutal mistreatment. Enslavers would post advertisements seeking the capture and return of runaways, like this one in the Rome Courier published in 1851.
Courtesy of Georgia Newspaper Project, Georgia Historic Newspapers.
On the eve of the Civil War in 1860, Forsyth County’s population of 7,749 included 890 enslaved African Americans, who were forced to work in gold mines, on mid-sized cotton farms, and in the homes of their enslavers. Another 461,000 enslaved people labored elsewhere in the state. Many worked on rice plantations across the Coastal Plain. But the largest share—some three-quarters of Georgia's enslaved population—worked on cotton plantations in the rich soils of the state’s Black Belt.
Slaveholders frequently beat and sometimes killed the people they enslaved. Families were often separated by the sale of one family member or another, and regular slave patrols terrorized both enslaved and free Black people as they traveled or rested in their homes at night. Oral histories document Forsyth County’s slave patrols, which brutalized the area’s Black residents. All the while, though, enslaved people resisted their captors and sustained a rich culture in the face of horrible cruelty.