Fact Check: What Percentage Of White Southerners Owned Slaves?


By Ann  Brown

August 10, 2020


When it comes to reparations, one of the consistent arguments against them is that there were actually not very many white slave owners in the U.S. Recently, reparations activist and Duke professor William Sandy Darity disputed this on Twitter.

He posted, one “lie circulating that only 1% of white southerners owned slaves. #FHTE In 1860, 1% of white southern families owned 200 or more human beings, but in states of the Confederacy, at least 20% owned at least one and in Ms and SC ran as high as fifty percent.”

Darity cited a chart and research by U.S. civil war expert Al Mackey to back up his statement. Others have refuted Darity’s claim, denying that slaves enriched their white owners.

Greg @lblanconx360 replied to Darity’s tweet, “Yes- but in the case of SC, most of these were not large plantations like in Gone with the Wind on the coast, but were smaller farms. The owners were not getting rich. They were fighting for survival as cotton and tobacco prices were on a roller coaster.”

According to Mackey, the 1 percent figure is misleading and needs to be understood.

Mackey is an educator, a retired U. S. Air Force officer and a former human resources manager with a global company.  He has become an expert on the U.S. Civil War and writes a blog called “Student of the American Civil War.”