Laurens, Henry, and African Americans
- Penny Anne Welbourne
was one of the first prominent white southerners to express his concern over the moral and ethical issues surrounding slavery. Born and educated in Charleston, South Carolina, Laurens went to London in 1744 to serve a clerkship under an established merchant, James Crokatt. When he returned to Charleston four years later, Laurens joined the commission firm of George Austin and began working in the export–import business. His twenty-year marriage to Eleanor Ball produced thirteen children, only four of whom reached maturity. One of the four, John Laurens, became an outspoken critic of slavery but was killed toward the end of the Revolutionary War.
As a merchant Henry Laurens exported rice indigo tar lumber and deerskins and he imported rum from the West Indies and slaves from Africa Because slave labor was used extensively to support the growing agricultural industry in the South the sale of slaves could ...
A version of this article originally appeared in The Encyclopedia of African American History, 1619–1895.