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Slavery & the Jews

In response to:

The Slave Trade and the Jews from the December 22, 1994 issue

To the Editors:

It has come to my attention that I made a careless error in my essay “The Slave Trade and the Jews” [NYR, December 22, 1994], when I stated that “Jews made up about half the population of Curaçao.” I meant about half the white population of Curaçao. I have also been informed by Harold Brackman, on whom I drew for statistics on southern Jewish slaveholders in 1830, that the census reveals an even lower percentage than he had first reported of large slaveholders among the southern Jewish population:

There were only twenty-three Jews among the 59,000 slaveholders owning twenty or more slaves and just four Jews among the 11,000 slaveholders owning fifty or more slaves. In other words, the South’s “master class” of big plantation owners was 99.9 percent non-Jewish. Also in 1830, 11,912 slaves were owned by 3,647 free “persons of color” who outnumbered Jewish slaveholders by fifteen to one.

David Brion Davis
Department of History
Yale University
New Haven, Connecticut

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