Tuesday, November 24, 2015

Buying, Selling, & Transporting Slaves in 19C America

 1830 Library of Congress, Prints and Photographs Division

An engraving, captioned "United States Slave Trade. 1830" which shows slaves in shackles, whites holding whips; capital dome in Washington, D.C. is in background.

Coffle of Enslaved, Washington, D.C., 1840s. Slavery and the slave trade at the nation's capital (New York,1846)

Slave Auction in Charleston, South Carolina. 1853 The Illustrated London News (Nov. 29, 1856), vol. 29, p. 555.

Slave Auction in Christiansburg, Virginia, 1850s. Lewis Miller, Sketchbook of Landscapes in the State of Virginia, 1853-1867.

Slave Auction in Richmond, Virginia 1853. The Illustrated London News (Sept. 27, 1856), vol. 29, p. 315.

Slave Auction, New Orleans, 1839. James Buckingham, The Slave States of America (London, 1842), vol. 1,  detail

Slave Auction, Richmond, Virginia, 1861. The Illustrated London News (Feb. 16, 1861), vol. 38, p.139.

Slave Auction, United States. Henry Bibb, Narrative of the life and adventures of Henry Bibb, an American slave, written by himself (New York, 1849), p. 201.

Slave Sale in New Orleans, 1861. The Illustrated London News (Jan-June, 1861), vol. 38, p. 307. detail

Slaves Waiting to be Sold, Richmond, Virginia 1853. The Illustrated London News (Sept. 27, 1856), vol. 29, p. 315.

Examining a Slave for Sale in Virginia 1830. Frances Trollope, Domestic manners of the Americans (London, 1832), vol. 2, facing p. 18  Caption, "Live Stock, Virginia, 1830." The author was in the United States from late 1827 to around 1830-31. This illustration is found in her chapter on Virginia and her discussion of slavery in the state, but she does not describe what the illustration is supposed to convey. The scene is the interior of a cabin, a bed in the right-hand corner; a calabash ladle or drinking gourd hangs on the wall. The black man with the cane, and the white man behind him with his hands on the black man's chest.

Slave Sale in Richmond, Virginia 1861. The Illustrated London News (Feb. 16, 1861), p. 138.

Kidnapping a Free Person to Sell as a Slave, U.S. South, 1830s. George Bourne, Picture of slavery in the United State of America. .  (Boston, 1838)  Captioned, "Kidnapping," this illustration shows the kidnapping of a free person of color to sell him as a slave. "Nothing is more common," the author writes, "than for two of these white partners in kidnapping . . . to start upon the prowl; and if they find a freeman on the road, to demand his certificate, tear it in pieces, or secrete it, tie him to one of their horses, hurry off to some jail, while one whips the citizen along as fast as their horses can travel. There by an understanding with the jailor who shares in the spoil, all possibility of intercourse with his friends is denied the stolen citizen. At the earliest possible period, the captive is sold out to pay the felonious claims of the law . . . and then transferred to some of their accomplices of iniquity . . . who fill every part of the southern states with rapine, crime, and blood" (p. 120).

Branding Slaves. William O. Blake, The History of Slavery and the Slave Trade (Columbus, Ohio, 1857), p. 97

Slave Coffel in Kentucky 1857. Anon., The Suppressed Book About Slavery! Prepared for Publication in 1857 (New York, 1864), facing p. 49.  "The Coffle Gang" is led by white on horseback and black musicians at the front. In an eye-witness account of the scene depicted in this illustration is given on pp. 164-65, the scene described is of "about forty men, all chained together. . . . Behind them were about thirty women, in double rank, the couples tied hand to hand...."

Slaves walking from Staunton, Virginia to Tennessee 1850s Lewis Miller, Sketchbook of Landscapes in the State of Virginia, 1853-1867.  “Slave trader, Sold to Tennessee,” this water color shows a group of about 20 men, women, and children, being marched from Staunton, in Augusta county, Virginia to Tennessee; guarding the group are two white men on horseback. In the caption underneath, Miller writes “ The company going to Tennessee from Staunton, Augusta county, the law of Virginia suffered them to go on. I was astonished at this boldness, the carrier stopped a moment, then ordered the march, I saw the play it is commonly in this state, when the negro’s in droves Sold.”

Slave Coffel in Virginia 1839. James Buckingham, The Slave States of America (London, 1842), vol. 2, facing p. 553.

Slaves being driven to Lower South from Virginia, 1862. Harper's Weekly (November 8, 1862), p.713.

American Slavery As It Is

Theodore Weld
New York: American Anti-Slavery Society, 1839


Mr. Sapington, is a repentant “soul driver” or slave trader, now a citizen of Lancaster, Pa. He gives the following testimony in a letter dated, Jan. 21, 1839.
 “I was born in Maryland, afterwards moved to Virginia, where I commenced the business of farming and trafficking in slaves...Pursuing my assumed right of driving souls, I went to the Southern part of Virginia for the purpose of trafficking in slaves. In that part of the state, the cruelties practised upon the slaves, are far greater than where I lived...I was then selling a drove of slaves, which I had brought by water from Baltimore, my conscience not allowing me to drive, as was generally the case uniting the slaves by collars and chains, and thus driving them under the whip...

"On preparing for my removal to the state of Pennsylvania, it became necessary for me to go to Louisville, in Kentucky, where, if possible, I became more horrified with the impositions practiced upon the negro than before. There a slave was sold to go farther south, and was hand-cuffed for the purpose of keeping him secure. But choosing death rather than slavery, he jumped overboard and was drowned. When I returned four weeks afterwards his body, that had floated three miles below, was yet unburied. One fact; it is impossible for a person to pass through a slave state, if he has eyes open, without beholding every day cruelties repugnant to humanity."

For more images and information see:  www.slaveryimages.org, compiled by Jerome Handler and Michael Tuite, and sponsored by the Virginia Foundation for the Humanities and the University of Virginia Library." If there are any questions, contact Jerome Handler jh3v@virginia.edu.