The role of hunting to cope with risk at Saragossa Plantation, Natchez, Mississippi

Amy L. Young, University of Southern Mississippi
M Tuma
C Jenkins


Saragossa Plantation is located in Natchez, Mississippi. It was established in 1823 by one of the wealthiest cotton planters in the Old South, Stephen Duncan. Between 1823 and 1865, Saragossa was home to numerous enslaved African Americans who faced dangers of abuse at the hands of their overseer, sundered and reconstituted families, disease, overwork, and lack of autonomy. Hunting by members of the slave community is suggested as one of the more effective mechanisms for coping with meager rations, but it also functioned to reinforce male gender identity and to incorporate strangers into the quarter community. Overall, hunting strengthened slave family and community bonds and made these social institutions better able to cope with violence, lack of autonomy, and other risks faced by slaves.