“Antebellum” is the period of time prior to the Civil War, approximately from 1830-1860. Historians study that time and take in consideration the population and the political climate in slave-holding Virginia.
Large Colonial and Revolutionary enterprises in Stafford, such as Iron Forges/Furnaces as well as Stone Quarries, used slave labor. Many slaves remained in the county after the furnaces or quarries closed. (Accokeek Furnace ruins shown above)
The 1860 census of Stafford lists only 8,633 people, but was surprisingly quite evenly split between whites and blacks. There were 4,918 whites and 3,715 blacks. The black population included 321 free blacks and about ten times as many slaves, numbering 3,394. Slavery, however, was not as prevalent as the figures indicated, for out of 1,022 heads of white households in the county, 39% owned slaves. Most of those households owned fewer than five slaves. There were only two plantation owners with around 100 slaves each, those of J. Horace Lacy of the Lacy House (Chatham) and Gustavus B. Wallace of Little Whim. (Photo, The George Washington Foundation)