Selling Slave Families Down the River: Property Rights and the Public Auction
By Bradley T. Ewing, Mark Thornton, Mark A. Yanochik
This article appeared in the Summer 2009 issue of The Independent Review

Why were slave families broken up when doing so increased the likelihood of runaways? A key piece of this long-standing puzzle is that most break-ups occurred as the result of government-generated slave sales (e.g., probate and bankruptcy-related sales at public auctions), whereas purely private exchanges, including commercial auctions, tended to maintain family units.

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