Voluntary enslavement of herself and her son.
by Lisa Y. Henderson
… Mr Alford presented a petition from Sally Scott, free woman of color, praying for the voluntary enslavement of herself and infant son to Sidney A. Henton. …
Charlotte Democrat, 2 December 1862.
Wow, I’ve never heard of a situation like this. Could the rationale be seeking room and board?
I don’t know in this case, but I’ve seen evidence of at least a couple of dozen “voluntary” enslavements. Most were in the period leading up to the Civil War, but I’m sure it happened informally more frequently. Single women (whether unmarried or in a marriage not recognized by law) faced grim prospects, especially in rural areas. There were certainly those who prospered, but others might have seen enslavement as a sole recourse to feed their children or to keep their families intact if, for example, an owner threatened to sell away a spouse.