"A Perilous and Grievous Burden" The Dilemma of the Antislavery Slaveholder in Virginia During the Early National Period: A Case Study of General John Hartwell Cocke of Bremo

Grizzard, Frank Edgar, Jr., Corcoran Department of History, University of Virginia
Ayers, Edward, Corcoran Department of History, University of Virginia

The great planter elite that had governed Virginia for generations experienced a time of disturbance and adversity after the Revolutionary War. Although some
families managed to retain their position of high esteem and leadership, many others in the era after 1790 experienced a time of disaster. As the economic and
population centers of the state shifted westward due to economic and social tensions, the existence of slavery remained one of their most perplexing problems. Their republican moral ideals undermined the system of labor
that provided the material base which kept them in power and thus gave a kind of stability to the South.

Virginians of the gentry class did not have to be especially introspective or self~critical to realize that their dilemma not only affected their present way
of life but also threatened the future happiness of their children. That class included one of central Virginia's most assiduous planters, John Hartwell

MA (Master of Arts)
John Hartwell Cocke, Virginia, antislavery, Bremo, slavery
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