Raleigh Weekly Standard, 27 May 1863.
“Railroad companies and contractors hired slaves by the hundreds; they also purchased slaves directly, in lots of 50 or more. In fact, by the 1850s, the South’s railroad companies could be counted among the largest slaveholders in their regions. They even developed special accounting entries on their balance sheets to show the value of “the Negro Fund.” …
“… The South pursued railroad expansion as fast as the North, laying as many miles of track in the 1850s as the Midwest, even exceeding the pace of construction in much of the North. And slavery was inextricably bound to the South’s railroad boom: slaves could be moved at the will of a slaveholder quickly from one part of the South to another, and whites could use slaves as collateral on loans to build railroads or purchase new farms. What’s more, railroads opened up new cotton frontiers in the interior South, expanding the need for slavery in agricultural contexts.
But the constant moving and confusion of the railroad boom also made escape easier. …”
Excerpt from Thomas, William G., “Been Workin’ on the Railroad,” New York Times, 10 February 2012.
W.K. Delany was listed in the 1860 federal slave schedule of Greenville, Pitt County, North Carolina, southeast of Wilson, as the owner of 22 slaves.