Slaves were considered subject to white persons. Louisville, Kentucky , on the Ohio River was a major slave market and port for shipping slaves downriver by the Mississippi to the South. Invention of the cotton gin enabled the profitable cultivation of short-staple cotton, which could be produced more widely than other types; this led to King Cotton throughout the Deep South. Former prevalent economic practice in the US, especially after import of slaves was made illegal. All rights were to the owner of the slave, with the slave having no rights of self-determination either to his or her own person, spouse, or children. Several factors coalesced to make the breeding of slaves a common practice by the end of the 18th century, chief among them the enactment of laws and practices that transformed the view of slaves from "personhood" into "thinghood.
See also: Field slaves and House slaves.
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The slave narratives also testified that slave women were subjected to arranged marriages, forced matings, sexual violation by masters, their sons or overseers, and other forms of abuse. A man would rent the stockman and put him in a room with some young women he wanted to raise children from. Ned Sublette , co-author of The American Slave Coast , states that the reproductive worth of "breeding women" was essential to the young country's expansion not just for labor but as merchandise and collateral stemming from a shortage of silver , gold , or sound paper tender. Many recounted that at least a portion of slave owners continuously interfered in the sexual lives of their slaves usually the women.