Characters

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Last Reviewed on June 19, 2019, by eNotes Editorial. Word Count: 148

Soul by Soul: Life Inside the Antebellum Slave Market is a non-fiction work by the American historian Walter Johnson. It recounts the slave trade in the pre-Civil War South during the time period 1820 to 1860.

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Johnson offers a close examination of several historic characters connected to slavery in the American South in the first half of the 19th century. One of them is John Knight, who envisions himself in the mold of Thomas Jefferson and hopes to start an idyllic plantation populated by slaves. Knight assumes a paternalistic role in his enterprise; however, despite his use of slave labor, Johnson says that Knight "seems to have cared a great deal" about the people he enslaved.

Johnson examines not only slave owners but also enslaved people, who become a cast of supporting characters in his book. These include, most prominently, William Wells Brown, Solomon Northrup, Charles Ball, and Moses Grandy.

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