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Lou Smith: Page 40 in To Be A Slave
Transcript of Lou Smith: Page 40 in To Be A Slave
My mother told me that he owned a woman who was the mother of seven
children, and when her babies would get about a year or two of age, he'd sell them and it would break her heart. She never got to keep them. When her fourth baby was born and was about two months old, she just studied it all the time about how she would have to give it up, and one day she said, "I just decided I'm not going to let ol' master sell this baby; he just ain't going to do it." She got
up and give it something out of a bottle and
pretty soon it was dead.
(Doc Daniel Dowdy: Pages 51 and 52 in To Be a Slave
I saw slaves sold. I can see the block now.
My cousin Eliza was a pretty girl, really
good-looking. Her master was her father. When the
girls in the big house had beaus coming to see them they'd ask, "Who is that pretty gal?" So they decided to get rid of her right away. The day they sold her will always be remembered. They stripped her to be bid off and looked at. I wasn't allowed to stand in the crowd. I was laying down under a big bush. The man that bought Eliza was from New York. The Negroes had made up 'nough money to buy her off themselves, but they wouldn't let that happen. There was a man bidding for her who was a big Swedelander. He always bid for the good-looking colored gals and bought 'em for his own use. He asked the man from New York, "What are you gonna do with her when you get her?" The
man from New York said, "None of your damn business, but
you ain't got enough money to buy her." When the man
from New York had done bought her he said,
"Eliza, you are free from now on."
The practice of slavery took root
early in the American colonies after
the year 1620
By the second half of the century, colonies such as Virginia and Maryland had developed agricultural economies that were prospering primarily on labor-intensive farming, particularly in crops such tobacco, cotton, and other crops that were grown for export.
Convict laborers and indentured servants were only a limited type of labor. The importation of African slaves soon became a central
feature to the economy
The largest Slave Auction in America took place just four miles outside Savannah, Georgia, in March 1859
At the auction there were a total of 436 slaves to be auctioned off to buyers
Most of them had never been sold before
The auction happened because two plantations were broken up
Men, woman, children, and even infants were sold at the auction
A rule was placed at the 1859 auction unlike many others. The rule stipulated that slaves were to be sold as “families”, which was defined as a husband and wife and any offspring. However, there were little
guarantee that the rule would be
applied in all cases.
("Slave Auction 1859.",
"The Largest Slave Auction")
The Largest Slave Auction
Background Information (Cont.)
When slavery became out of public favor antislavery movements began and this led to the banning of the Atlantic slave trade in America. However, it did not outlaw slavery and domestic sale of slaves continued.
In the year 1640 Maryland was the first American colony to institutionalize slavery. And 50 years later, there were already over 200,000 slaves in America.
Slave auctions were a regular feature of life in southern cities principally Charleston, South Carolina; Richmond, Virginia; and New Orleans. The slave auctions were one of the most significant public symbols of the practice of slavery.
Some of our most prominent historical figures owned slaves. George Washington, the nation’s first president, owned his own slaves and frequently participated in slave auctions.
What were Slave Auctions?
Slave Auctions were, by their nature public
They were often referred to as "one stop shopping"
They were extremely convenient for the buyers because you did not have to travel much to find slaves.They were all in one place so buyers could easily compare the slaves
Men, woman, and children were all able to be put on the auction block
Gender and age did not matter except for the price
What problems do slaves face with the Slave Auction?
Over half of the sales at auction break a family apart
The slave trader was in charge of selling the slaves to the highest bidder, not to the kindest person
They were chained up or kept captive waiting until the auction took place
Once sold, the slaves were chained together and marched away,
sleeping in the fields at night, until
they arrived weeks later
("Slavery: Slave Auction",
It's all about the Money
Slavery was established solely to allow people to make money
The slave auction is no different
The buyers bought slaves to work on their plantations to grow crops that the owner would sell for money
The people selling slaves could get out of debt and by selling slaves got them back money
Slave auctions opened up a new job for auctioneers and slave traders
Helped outside business(hotels)
Ads published in papers
makes papers money
("A Slave Auction in South Carol
("A Slave Auction in South
"A Slave Auction in South Carolina"
To be a Slave)
(To be a Slave,
"Slave Auction 1859
Slaves were property
They were buying other human beings which truly signifies that they were nothing but property
The way the buyers examined the slaves was dehumanizing
There were no boundaries. The buyers could examine anything. The slaves had no say
("Slavery: Slave Auctions")
Slave owners and traders would try and get the most money out of their slaves
They would feed them great before the auction making them look they were well fed for months
The slave trader would describe slaves key skills
Slave Auction Tricks
(To be a Slave)
Rare Happenings at Slave Auction
Occasionally a slave owner would be gentle with the children
This would make the child want to go to the new owner
Slave auctions can be seen as a time of joy
New owner, freedom
(To be a Slave)