Presentation on theme: "Auctions, Advertisements, and Agony: The Buying and Selling of Slaves By Christine Olson."— Presentation transcript:
Auctions, Advertisements, and Agony: The Buying and Selling of Slaves By Christine Olson
By the mid 1700s, a domestic slave trade had developed. People were buying and selling slaves within the 13 colonies, and were not just importing them from Africa. As early as 1662, the colony of Virginia was charging a tax on slaves. Other colonies soon followed and also charged taxes on slaves.
Slaves were sold in many ways: at auctions, in markets, in offices where slave traders received a commission, or through private sales. There were slave traders whose business was the buying and selling of slaves; slaves were sold for profit.
Slaves were moved around the country in “coffles” - forced marches where slaves had to walk long distances, often in chains and irons. The journeys could be many miles, and would continue for days, regardless of the weather. Coffles
On the Auction Block Slaves were inspected before purchase. “The Negroes were examined with as little consideration as if they had been animals; the buyers were pulling their mouths open to see their teeth, pinching their limbs to see how muscular they were, walking them up and down, making them stoop and bend to make sure there was no concealed rupture or wound.”
Slaves cooperation and demeanor could play a part in whether sales were made or not. There are a stories about slaves who did not like the looks of certain buyers, acting mean on the auction block. If a buyer looked kind, a slave could make themselves look desirable. Some slaves cut off their own hands to prevent sales. Some owners would bribe slaves with money to not block sales. Some slaves would boast about how much money they brought in on the auction block.
Private Sales Not everyone used slave traders to sell slaves. Slaves would be advertised in newspapers. In private sales, owners might show concern for a slave’s wishes, such as staying with a family.
Some slaves were able to buy themselves. Former slave Jerry Moore tells the story of his father: “He had saved up some money, and when they went to sell him he bid $800. The auctioneer cried round to git a raise, but wouldn’t nobody bid. My father done say after the war, he could have buyed hisself for $1.50.”
Slave stealing Since slaves were considered property, there was some kidnapping and slave stealing that occured. The Murrell gang, operating in the 1830s, would conspire with a slave, promise him a reward (his freedom), “kidnap” the slave, sell him/her, and then have the slave escape to rejoin them.
Resources Eyewitness History of Slavery in America by Dorothy and Carl J. Schneider Hard Road to Freedom by James Oliver and Lois Horton Images from the Library of Congress website: