Descendents of William Lee as documented on this website disagree with slave breeder-traders like Tobias Lear whose "Romanized" accounts remove any virtuous considerations between Washington and Lee; or, for that matter the Jefferson Plantation overseer for field workers who lied about Jefferson's relationships with the Hemings family members (though he was never allowed to supervise them or hardly enter the mansion house where many of them lived and worked).
Some scholars in the 20th century and beyond have concocted the near ridiculous notion that slaves were well treated because they were valuable property? Again, it is akin to a German scholar who is reluctant to acknowledge that most prisoners of war held by the Nazi were not well treated even though some were. The silence by African-American scholars at America's major universities has contributed to the outpouring of ante-bellum propaganda not gone with the wind of change brought on by the Civil War.
Margaret Mitchell and many other writers sought to romanticize the institution of chattel slavery without defining the functions and mechanics. It is akin to relying on Nazi concentration camp files and guards to define Jewish family relationships. We can speculate that otherwise virtuous men like Washington and Jefferson would have viewed men like Tobias Lear as a necessary economic evil; ... but, would not have engaged with them on any non-business matters. Lear was one of the scoundrels that profited in slave-breeding for export to places like Alabama and Mississippi. Much like the fabled horse-breeding industry, ... breeder-traders found and monitored clients and potential clients who needed their female slaves pregnant to improve credit ratings and plantation viability.
The prize possession of a slave-breeder was his ownership of a proven stud like Juba who could and would sire offspring via female slaves of a client owner like the Custis Estate. In time such practices would prove profitable with annual crops of slaves for sale in the deep south. Facts will forever remain that Virginia's largest industry (financed and traded as a viable economics venture) by time of the Civil War was the production and export of slaves to the deep south. One must always keep in mind, as cited by Madison Hemings and later Frederick Douglass, ... most slave owners in Virginia and Maryland did not hesitate to sell a young slave for the profitable export market. It therefore is very difficult to track a mother's offspring after the age of six or seven years since that is the age slaves were considered to be the age of marketable productive labor.
And, last but not least, ... women in particular ought to be careful in accepting the propaganda.
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