The U.S. has a long and shameful history of treating women like property | Michael Coard

Free white women’s bodies have it bad in the U.S., enslaved Black girls’ bodies had it worse

June 28, 2022 6:30 am

Two students hugged after sharing their stories and why they felt abortion access should remain legal and safe during the national walk-out for abortion rights in Philadelphia, Pa. on 5/26/22. (Photo by Daniella Heminghaus, for the Capital-Star).

While writing this week’s column, the misogynistic and theocratic majority in the U.S. Supreme Court overturned about 50 years of judicial precedent by reversing the 1973 Roe v. Wade ruling, thereby declaring that females’ bodies don’t belong to them but instead belong to the predominantly male government.

Replica of 1848 slavery auction poster on display at Michigan Street Baptist Church in Buffalo, New York (Image via The Philadelphia Tribune).

In doing so, the court also declared — in effect — that if women and girls die by being forced into unsafe back-alley abortions, so be it.

It is estimated that there were anywhere from 630,000 to 886,000 abortions in 2021. That means up to nearly 900,000 women and girls could die in 2022 due to that Supreme Court reversal.

It’s bad when men control the bodies of women and girls. In fact, it’s very bad. But it was worse during slavery.

Have you ever heard of the phrase “bud’n out?” If you’ve been on or have friends who’ve been on social media during the past few days, you certainly have seen or heard that phrase in a post that has gone viral. But if you haven’t, please continue to read this article because I will explain it. However, because The Tribune is an impressively genteel publication, I will not be as graphic as I probably should be in explaining the phrase. But I will make sure you understand how horrifically lewd it is.

As you can see directly beneath the headline in this article, the “bud’n out” phrase is included in the “slave auction” poster.

As reported at on June 21:

“A poster advertising ‘slaves for sale’ … has gone viral on Twitter after its contents horrified people who read it. The poster also features the phrase ‘bud’n out,’ the meaning of which is even worse than you could have thought …. The poster advertises a public auction that took place on Thursday, 12 April 1848 at O’Donald’s Auction House in Charleston, South Carolina.”

And as documented at in its June 16 essay, about the historic Michigan Street Baptist Church, which began with an abolitionist pastor and congregation in 1836, is the first Black church in Buffalo, New York and served as a key stop on the Underground Railroad:

“There were a few deeply disturbing things [Bishop William Henderson highlighted]. Out of the 18 women for sale [as shown on the poster], 8 … came with ‘future insurance,’ meaning they could still bear children. So in essence, pay for the price of one human and you have the potential of receiving more.”

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That is outrageously inhumane. And it gets worse. The essay continues by pointing out that the learned Bishop Henderson stated that:

“Even more chilling is … the description of the 6 girls [in connection with the phrase ‘bud’n out].’ This meant two things. Because the girls were in puberty [which is what the phrase means], they were available for the ‘slave’ owners’ personal pleasure and also had the possibility of having children — more ‘future insurance.’

Whoa! “Bud’n out” means puberty! The National Library of Medicine says puberty in females begins from age 8 to 12½. That means as early as 8 years old. Eight years old! Black girls as young as 8 were sold to creepy, perverted, “slave-owning” pedophilic men who could legally do to those little girls whatever their sick fantasies desired.

Stop for a minute and think about that. And think about your innocent little second/third grade daughter, granddaughter, great-granddaughter, niece, grandniece or great-grandniece.

Then stop for a minute and think about how common not only “bud’n out” was but rape of enslaved Black girls and women was throughout American slavery’s 246-year existence from 1619-1865.

By the way, whenever a white man raped an enslaved Black woman or girl, not only could the ravaged victim not file criminal charges, that victim also couldn’t sue in civil court for personal injury or emotional distress. However, if the “owner” wasn’t the rapist, that owner could (if he preferred) sue the perpetrator for “property damage.” WTF?!

In editor Merril D. Smith’s “Encyclopedia of Rape,” published in 2018, Yale University archivist and librarian Dannell Moon pointed out that slavery in this country encompassed wide-ranging rape and sexual abuse.

And Nell Irvin Painter, a professor, historian, and former president of the Organization of American Historians, aptly described what went on in this unrelenting and all-consuming viciously exploitative sexual hell as “soul murder” for the victims, with the resulting trauma often leading to deep depression and irreversibly low self-esteem. Painter passionately expanded upon this concept in her 1995 scholarly article, “Soul Murder and Slavery: Toward a Fully Loaded Cost Accounting.”

I should mention that the “slave-owning” rapists weren’t exclusively the stereotypical toothless hillbilly type like the degenerates in the movie “Deliverance.”

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They also included politically influential people. And no one’s more politically influential than a U.S. president. During their lifetime, the following 12 presidents enslaved Black people (and the last eight did so while in office): Martin Van Buren with one, Ulysses S. Grant with five, Andrew Johnson with eight, William Henry Harrison with 11, James K. Polk with 25, John Tyler with 70, James Monroe with 75, James Madison with approximately 100-125, Zachary Taylor with approximately 150, Andrew Jackson with approximately 150-200, Thomas Jefferson with 267, and George Washington with 316.

And what do you think many or most of those powerful white men probably did to those powerless Black women and girls? You certainly don’t think Thomas Jefferson was the exception, do you? As U.S. Envoy and Minister to France, Jefferson began living there periodically from 1784 to 1789.

He took with him his oldest daughter Martha and a few of those whom he enslaved, including James Hemings. In 1787, he requested that his daughter Polly join him. This meant Polly’s enslaved chambermaid, 14-year-old seamstress Sally Hemings (James’ younger sister), was to accompany her.

Both Sally and James were among the six mulatto offspring of Jefferson’s father-in-law, John Wayles, and his enslaved “domestic servant” Betty Hemings. Sally and James were half-siblings of Jefferson’s late wife, Martha Wayles Skelton Jefferson (meaning Thomas Jefferson and Sally were technically related). Jefferson, after repeatedly raping Sally while in Paris, impregnated her. Their first child died after she returned to America. But she had six more of his children at Monticello.

And don’t forget about West Ford, whose descendants say is George Washington’s mulatto son. And here’s why. Washington and Ford are spitting images of each other as historic drawings of both in their early 20s clearly prove. Log on to to see them.

Furthermore, Ford’s mother, Venus, was “owned” by Washington’s brother and sister-in-law at the Bushfield Plantation, which Washington visited several times, including around July 1784-January 1785 when Ford was conceived. Moreover, Venus said Washington was Ford’s father. In addition, Ford became Washington’s personal attendant at the Bushfield Plantation during Washington’s frequent visits there when they would go riding and hunting together and attend church together — until all that abruptly ended when Washington became president in 1789.

And it wasn’t just presidents probably raping enslaved Black women and girls. It was likely many or most of the 56 signers of the Declaration of Independence, since 41 of them were enslavers. And of the 55 signers to the U.S. Constitution, 25 were enslavers.

Elizabeth Keckley, the mulatto daughter of a raped mother, penned a riveting book, “Behind the Scenes; Or, Thirty Years a Slave and Four Years in the White House,” published in 1868.

In it, she recounted the “savage efforts [of a white man] to subdue my pride” and added, “I was regarded as fair-looking for one of my race, and for four years a white man … had base designs upon me. I do not care to dwell upon this subject, for it is one that is fraught with pain. Suffice it to say, that he persecuted me for four years, and I … became a mother. The child of which he was the father was the only child that I ever brought into the world.”

Before concluding this article, I must give a big shout-out to Tamorah Shareef Muhammad. She’s the sistah with the Twitter handle @ModestyQueen19 who on June 19 tweeted her righteous indignation by enlightening the social media universe with her now-viral tweet about the horrifically lewd “bud’n out” phrase in the sadistically evil “slave auction” poster.

Sistahs always endured hell in America. Sistahs always battled hell in America. Sistahs continue to battle hell in America. And victory is near.

And soon they will sit upon matriarchal thrones as their queenly ancient African ancestors did.

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Michael Coard
Michael Coard

Opinion contributor Michael Coard, an attorney and radio host, is a columnist for the Philadelphia Tribune. His work appears biweekly on the Capital-Star’s Commentary Page. Readers may follow him on Twitter @michaelcoard.