The Southwestern Historical Quarterly, Volume 88, July 1984 - April, 1985 Page: 388
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Southwestern Historzcal Quarterly
without a railroad, and, for most of the antebellum period, without a
newspaper, clearly had little contact with the outside world. Isolated
and not having a strong system of commercial agriculture, Hunt
County was a part of the second society delineated in Black Southerners.
The interpretations of Ramsdell and Boles provide the historio-
graphical context for this study, which is not intended to show that
Hunt County was beyond the natural limits of slavery or that the micro-
cosm (Hunt County) perfectly represented the macrocosm (the yeoman
farmer society). Still, the county is in an area where slavery and its ef-
fects have rarely been studied in detail, and many topics relating to slav-
ery in Hunt County deserve consideration: the significance of slavery to
the county's yeoman farmer economy, the position of slaveholders in
the county's economic and political structure, the strength of the inhabi-
tants' defense of slavery, and the effect on the master-slave relationship
of a population in which whites vastly outnumbered blacks.' In addi-
tion, the lives of blacks and whites and their contacts can be portrayed,
albeit not completely, from the public records and private letters they
have left behind.
When Hunt County was organized in 1846, only two county resi-
dents were slaveholders. King Fisher, who appears to have left the
county in 1849, owned 3, and James Hooker, who remained in the
county throughout the period under study, owned 2. The population
of the county at that time has been estimated at no more than 350.
Thus, slaves constituted about 1 percent of the population. By the time
of the state census in 1847, the white population of the county had
grown to 996, of whom 7 were slaveholders with 16 slaves (2 percent of
the population). In the 1850 census, the free schedule listed 1,477 in-
habitants, while the slave schedule listed 41 (3 percent of the popula-
tion). The decade from 1850 to 186o was one of steady growth for
Hunt County. Though their numbers were small, slaves were increas-
ing at a much faster rate than were free inhabitants (see table 1). In
186o the slave population was, at 577, fourteen times greater than what
it had been in 1850, while the free population, at 6,053, was just a little
over four times greater than its 1850 level. Still, the slaves in 186o
made up only 9 percent of the population.
sJohn B. Boles, Black Southerners, 1619-i869 (Lexington, Ky, 1983), 76-77 (quotations)
Boles's work is a synthesis of current historical scholarship on slavery.
4 Historical research suggests that slaves who lived in large holdings developed their own cul-
ture and enjoyed an advantage over bondsmen who did not live in a plantation setting See, for
example, John W. Blassingame, The Slave Community: Plantation Life in the Antebellum South (New
York, 1972). This research makes the study of the master-slave relationship in a region of small
slaveholdings seem especially interesting.
5 Hunt County Tax Rolls, 1846-19g o (microfilm, Archives Division, Records Division, Texas
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Texas State Historical Association. The Southwestern Historical Quarterly, Volume 88, July 1984 - April, 1985, periodical, 1984/1985; Austin, Texas. (texashistory.unt.edu/ark:/67531/metapth101210/m1/454/: accessed October 21, 2017), University of North Texas Libraries, The Portal to Texas History, texashistory.unt.edu; crediting Texas State Historical Association.