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Title: The Domestic Slave Trade of the Southern States
Author: Collins, Winfield H. (Winfield Hazlitt)
Language: English
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 _Professor of History and English in Claremont College._


 COMPANY :: AT 835

 Copyrighted, in 1904,



 _All Rights Reserved._

 _Professor of American History, Yale University_,
 _President of Western Maryland College_,


When I began the study of the Domestic Slave Trade of the Southern
States I had no idea of the conclusions as herein found. Especially
is this true of Chapters III. and IV. I have spared no pains to be
accurate in all statements of fact.

The material for this work was collected in the Yale University
Library in New Haven, Connecticut, and in the Congressional Library
at Washington. The sources used are to be found in the appended
bibliography. The most helpful were books of travel, newspapers and
periodicals, Statistics of Southern States and the United States Census

 W.H. Collins.

 Claremont College,
 Hickory, N.C.
 February 22, 1904.




 A Sketch of the Rise of the Trade in African
 Slaves and of the Foreign Slave Trade of the
 Southern States                                              1


 The Causes of the Rise and Development of the
 Domestic Slave Trade                                        21


 The Amount and Extent of the Trade                          36


 Were Some States Engaged in Breeding and Raising
 Negroes for Sale?                                           68


 The Kidnapping and Selling of Free Negroes into
 Slavery                                                     84


 Slave "Prisons," Markets, Character of Traders, etc.        96


 Laws of the Southern States with Reference to
 Importation and Exportation of Slaves                      109

 Bibliography                                               140




It is not our intention nor is it within our province to enter into
details concerning the foreign slave trade. It seems, however, that
a brief account is necessary as introductory to the subject of the
Domestic Slave Trade.

The rise in Europe of the traffic in slaves from Africa was an incident
in the commercial expansion of Portugal. It was coeval and almost
coextensive with the development of commerce, and followed in the wake
of discovery and colonization.

The first name connected with it is that of Antonio Gonçalvez, who
was a marine under Prince Henry the Navigator. In 1441 he was sent to
Cape Bojador to get a vessel load of "sea-wolves" skins. He signalized
his voyage by the capture of some Moors whom he carried to Portugal.
In 1442 these Moors promised black slaves as a ransom for themselves.
Prince Henry approved of this exchange and Gonçalvez took the captives
home and received, among other things, ten black slaves in exchange
for two of them. The king justified his act on the ground that the
negroes might be converted to the Christian religion, but the Moors
could not.[1] Two years later the Company of Lagos chartered by the
king, and engaged in exploration on the coast of Africa, imported about
two hundred slaves from the islands of Nar and Tidar.[2] "This year
(1444) Europe may be said to have made a distinct beginning in the
slave trade, henceforth to spread on all sides like the waves [in]
stirred up water, and not like them to become fainter and fainter as
the circles widen."[3]

After the discovery of America, the islands which became known as the
Spanish West Indies were speedily colonized, and the inefficiency of
the Indian as a laborer in the mines there soon led to the substitution
of the negro. As early as 1502 a few were employed, and in 1517 Charles
V. granted a patent to certain traders for the exclusive supply of
4,000 negroes annually to the islands of Hispaniola, Cuba, Jamaica and
Porto Rico.[4]

So far as known John Hawkins was the first Englishman to engage in the
slave traffic. He left England for Sierra Leone with three ships and
a hundred men in 1562, and having secured three hundred negroes he
proceeded to Hispaniola where he disposed of them, and having had a
very profitable voyage, he returned to England in 1563. This appears
to have excited the avarice of the British Government. The next year
Hawkins was appointed to the command of one of the Queen's ships and
proceeded to Africa where in company with several others, it appears,
he engaged in the slave traffic.[5]

In 1624 France began the slave trade and later Holland, Denmark, New
England and other English colonies, though the leader in the trade and
the last to abandon it was Great Britain.[6]

The first slaves introduced into any of the English continental
colonies was in 1619 about the last of August when a piratical Dutch
frigate, manned chiefly by English, stopped at Jamestown, Virginia,
and sold the colonists twenty negroes.[7] Even for a long while after
this, it seems, importation of negroes was merely of an occasional or
incidental nature. Indeed, in 1648 only three hundred negroes were to
be found in Virginia.[8] However, several shiploads were brought in
between 1664 and 1671, and at the latter date Virginia had two thousand
slaves.[9] During the latter part of the seventeenth and the early
part of the eighteenth century the importation of negroes gradually
increased. In 1705, eighteen hundred negroes were brought in and in
1715 Virginia had twenty-three thousand. By 1723 they were being
imported into this colony at the rate of fifteen hundred or sixteen
hundred a year.[10]

In the eighteenth century Virginia sought from time to time to hinder
the introduction of slaves by placing heavy duties on them. Indeed,
from 1732 until the Revolution there were only about six months
in which slaves could be brought into Virginia free of duty.[11]
Nevertheless, in 1776 Virginia had 165,000 slaves.[12]

Though all the other colonies imported slaves more or less during the
same period, yet with the possible exception of South Carolina they
fell far short of the number imported by Virginia.

In November 1708, Governor Seymour of Maryland, writing to the English
Board of Trade, stated that 2,290 negroes were imported into that
colony from midsummer 1698 to Christmas 1707. He reported the trade to
be running very high, six or seven hundred having been imported during
the year. In 1712 there were 8,330 negroes in Maryland.[13] During
about the same time (midsummer 1699 to October 1708) Virginia imported
6,607[14] while a northern colony, New Jersey, imported only one
hundred and fifteen from 1698 to 1726.[15]

Du Bois says that South Carolina received about three thousand slaves a
year from 1733 to 1766.[16] She had forty thousand in 1740.[17]

In 1700 North Carolina had eleven hundred, 1732 six thousand,[18] and
in 1764 about thirty thousand.[19]

Until near the beginning of the eighteenth century it was rare that
the English continental colonies received a shipload of slaves direct
from Africa, and even these were usually brought in by some unlicensed
"interloper." It is very probable that most of the negroes imported
before this time were from Barbados, Jamaica and other West India
Islands.[20] But by the beginning of the eighteenth century it appears
that slaves were being imported more rapidly. After the Assiento,[21]
in 1713, England became a great carrier of slaves and so continued
until the Revolution.[22] The effect of this was very sensibly felt by
the colonies.

Even in the latter part of the seventeenth century some of the
colonies began to show their dislike by levying duties on further
importation. In the eighteenth century the colonial opposition to the
importation of slaves, arising probably from a fear of insurrection,
became much more pronounced. Heavy restrictions in the form of duties
were laid upon the trade. In some cases these were so heavy as would
seem to amount to total prohibition.[23] But the efforts on the part
of the colonies to restrict the trade were frowned upon and often
disallowed by the British Government.[24]

In 1754 the instructions to Governor Dobbs, of North Carolina, were:
"Whereas, acts have been passed in some of our plantations in America
for laying duties on the importation and exportation of negroes to the
great discouragement of the Merchants trading thither from the coast
of Africa, ... it is our will and pleasure that you do not give your
assent to or pass any law imposing duties upon negroes imported into
our Province of North Carolina."[25]

The colonies considered the slave trade so important to Great Britain
that at the dawn of the Revolution some of them appear to have
had hopes of bringing her to terms by refusing to import any more

In the original draft of the Declaration of Independence as submitted
by Jefferson, the king of Great Britain is arraigned "for suppressing
every legislative attempt to prohibit or restrain this execrable

It has been estimated that in the year of the Declaration the whole
number of slaves in the thirteen colonies was 502,132, apportioned as
follows: Massachusetts, 3,500; Rhode Island, 4,376; Connecticut, 6,000;
New Hampshire, 627; New York, 15,000; New Jersey, 7,600; Pennsylvania,
10,000; Delaware, 9,000; Maryland, 80,000; Georgia, 16,000; North
Carolina, 75,000; South Carolina, 110,000; Virginia, 165,000.[28]

Two years after this, in 1778, Virginia took the lead against the
introduction of slaves by passing a law prohibiting importation
either by land or sea. This law made an exception of travellers and
immigrants.[29] Other States soon followed suit, passing laws to
restrict it temporarily or at specified places.[30] By 1803 all the
States and territories had laws in force prohibiting the importation of
slaves from abroad.[31] It must not be supposed, however, that these
were entirely effective. Indeed, the statement was made in Congress
Feb. 14, 1804, that in the preceding twelve months "twenty thousand"
enslaved negroes had been transported from Guinea, and by smuggling,
added to the plantation stock of Georgia and South Carolina.[32]

In 1798 an act of Congress establishing the territory of Mississippi
provided that no slave should be brought within its limits from
without the United States.[33] In 1804, when Louisiana was erected
into the territories of Louisiana and Orleans the provision was made
that only slaves which had been imported before May 1, 1798, might
be introduced into the territories and these must be the bona fide
property of actual settlers.[34]

Upon the petition of the inhabitants for the removal of the
restrictions, a bill was introduced in Congress, of which Du Bois says:
"By dexterous wording, this bill, which became a law March 2, 1805,
swept away all restrictions upon the slave trade except that relating
to foreign ports, and left even this provision so ambiguous that later
by judicial interpretations of the law, the foreign slave trade was
allowed at least for a time."[35]

South Carolina had even before this time (December 17, 1803), repealed
her law against the importation of slaves from Africa.[36] The trade
was thus open through this State for four years, during which time
39,075 slaves were imported through Charleston[37] alone.

The action of South Carolina in opening the slave trade forced the
question upon the attention of Congress. During 1805-6 it was much
discussed[38] but it was not until March 2, 1807, that a bill was
passed against it. This prohibited the importation of slaves after
January 1, 1808, under penalty of imprisonment for not less than five
nor more than ten years, and a fine of not less than $5,000 nor more
than $10,000.[39]

This law was not entirely effective. In 1810 the Secretary of the Navy
writing to Charleston, South Carolina, says: "I hear not without great
concern, that the law prohibiting the importation of slaves has been
violated in frequent instances near St. Mary's."[40]

Drake, a slave smuggler, says, that during the war of 1812 the business
of smuggling slaves through Florida into the United States was a
lively one.[41]

Vincent Nolte says that in 1813 "pirates captured Spanish and other
slave ships on the high seas and established their main depot and
rendezvous on the island of Barataria lying near the coast adjacent to
New Orleans. This place was visited by the sugar planters, chiefly of
French origin, who bought up the stolen slaves at from $150 to $200
per head when they could not have procured as good stock in the city
for less than $600 or $700. These were then conveyed to the different
plantations, through the innumerable creeks called bayous, that
communicate with each other by manifold little branches."[42]

In 1817-1819 slaves were very high and in great demand in the South. As
a consequence great numbers of them were smuggled in at various places.
The evidence of this is quite convincing.

Amelia Island and the town of St. Mary's became notorious as two of the
principal rendezvous of smugglers. A writer in "Niles' Register" in
1818 says that a regular chain of posts was established from the head
of St. Mary's river to the upper country, and through the Indian nation
by means of which slaves are hurried to every part of the country.
The woodmen along the river side rode like so many Arabs loaded with
slaves ready for market. When ready to form a caravan, an Indian alarm
was created that the woods might be less frequented, and if pursued in
Georgia they escaped to Florida.[43]

Mr. M'Intosh, Collector of the Port of Darien, in a letter in 1818,
says: "I am in possession of undoubted information that African and
West Indian negroes are almost daily illicitly introduced into Georgia,
for sale or settlement, or passing through it to the territories of the
United States."[44]

In 1817 it was reported to the Secretary of the Navy that "most of the
goods carried to Galveston are introduced into the United States, the
most bulky and least valuable regularly through the custom house;
the most valuable and the slaves are smuggled in through the numerous
inlets to the westward where the people are but too much disposed to
render them every possible assistance. Several hundred slaves are now
at Galveston."[45]

"Niles' Register," in 1818, quoting from the "Democrat Press," has a
very interesting account of how the law against the importation of
slaves was evaded at New Orleans: An agent would be sent to the West
Indies and even to Africa to purchase a cargo of slaves. On the return
when the slave ship got near Balize the agent would leave her, go in
haste to New Orleans and inform the proper authorities that a certain
vessel had come into the Mississippi, said to be bound for New Orleans
and having on board a certain number of negroes contrary to the law
of the United States. The vessel and cargo would be libelled and the
slaves sold at public auction. One half of the purchase money would go
to the informer and the other to the United States.[46] The informer
and agent was the same man and a partner in the transaction. This was
a profitable business and about ten thousand slaves a year are said to
have been thus introduced.[47]

It is quite evident that the illicit slave trade at this time was very
great. In 1819 Mr. Middleton, of South Carolina, said in Congress that
in his opinion thirteen thousand Africans were annually smuggled into
the United States, and Mr. Wright, of Virginia, estimated the number at
fifteen thousand.[48]

In 1818, 1819 and 1820 Congress passed acts to supplement and render
more effective the act of 1807.[49] Du Bois says that for a decade
after 1825 there appears little positive evidence of a large illicit
importation, but thinks notwithstanding that slaves were largely

Captain J.E. Alexander in a book published in 1833 says that he was
assured by a planter of forty years' standing that persons in New
Orleans were connected with slave traders in Cuba, and that at certain
seasons of the year they would go up the Mississippi River and meet
slave ships off the coast. They would relieve these of their cargoes,
return to the main stream of the river, drop down in flat boats and
dispose of the negroes to those who wished them.[51] Thomas Powell
Buxton makes the statement, upon what he claims to be high authority,
that fifteen thousand negroes were imported into Texas from Africa in
one year, about 1838.[52]

The "Liberator" quoting the "Maryland Colonization Herald," says a
writer in that paper was assured, in 1838, by Pedro Blanco, one of the
largest slave traders on the coast of Africa, that for the preceding
forty years the United States had been his best market through the west
end of Cuba and Texas.[53]

"Between 1847 and 1853," says Du Bois, "the slave smuggler Drake had
a slave depot in the Gulf, where sometimes as many as sixteen hundred
negroes were on hand, and the owners were continually importing and

Drake himself says: "Our island was visited almost weekly by agents
from Cuba, New York, Baltimore, Philadelphia, Boston and New Orleans,
... the seasoned and instructed slaves were taken to Texas or Florida,
overland, and to Cuba, in sailing boats. As no squad contained more
than half a dozen, no difficulty was found in posting them to the
United States, without discovery, and generally without suspicion....
The Bay Island plantation sent ventures weekly to the Florida Keys.
Slaves were taken into the great American swamps, and there kept till
wanted for market. Hundreds were sold as runaways from the Florida
wilderness. We had agents in every slave State, and our coasters were
built in Maine and came out with lumber. I could tell curious stories
... of this business of smuggling Bozal negroes into the United States.
It is growing more profitable every year, and if you should hang
all the Yankee merchants engaged in it, hundreds would fill their

Owing to the increasing demand, and to the high price of slaves from
1845 to 1860, and to the fact that the Southern people were becoming
more and more favorable to the reopening of the African slave trade,
thus making it easier to practice smuggling successfully, we have no
reason to doubt the truth of these accounts of this illicit traffic.

Stephen A. Douglas said in 1859 it was his confident opinion that
more than fifteen thousand slaves had been imported in the preceding
year, and that the trade had been carried on extensively for a long
while.[55] About 1860 it was stated that twenty large cities and towns
in the South were depots for African slaves and sixty or seventy
cargoes of slaves had been introduced in the preceding eighteen
months.[56] It was estimated in 1860 that eighty-five vessels which
had been fitted out from New York City during eighteen months of
1859 and 1860, would introduce from thirty thousand to sixty thousand

From what has been said it seems to us certain that at least 270,000
slaves were introduced into the United States from 1808 to 1860
inclusive.[58] These we would distribute as follows: Between 1808 and
1820, sixty thousand; 1820 to 1830, fifty thousand; 1830 to 1840, forty
thousand; 1840 to 1850, fifty thousand and from 1850 to 1860 seventy
thousand. We consider these very moderate and even low estimates.

It will be seen later that these figures are of prime importance in
accounting for the presence of certain slaves in the States of the
extreme South.


[Footnote 1: A. Helps: The Spanish Conquest of America, Vol. I., 30-32.]

[Footnote 2: Ibid., 35-36.]

[Footnote 3: Helps: Sp. Con. of Am., Vol. I., 40.]

[Footnote 4: Edwards: British West Indies, Vol. II., 44. Brock: Va.
Hist. So. Collection, Vol. VI., 2.]

[Footnote 5: Edwards: British West Indies, Vol. II., 47-8.]

[Footnote 6: Ballaugh: Hist. of Slavery in Va., p. 4.]

[Footnote 7: John Smith: Hist. of Va., Vol. II., 39. Ballaugh: Hist. of
Slavery in Va., pp. 8-9. There has been some misunderstanding as to the
date, but Ballaugh makes it clear that 1619 is correct.]

[Footnote 8: Brock: Va. Hist. So. Coll., VI., 9. Ballaugh: Hist. Sl. in
Va., p. 9.]

[Footnote 9: Hening: States at Large, Vol. II., 515.]

[Footnote 10: Ballaugh: Hist. Sl. in Va., pp. 10-14.]

[Footnote 11: Ibid., p. 19.]

[Footnote 12: De Bow: Industrial Resources of the South, Vol. III.,

[Footnote 13: Scharf: Hist. of Md., Vol. I., 376-7.]

[Footnote 14: N.C. Colonial Records, Vol. I., 693.]

[Footnote 15: N.J. Archives, Vol. V., 152.]

[Footnote 16: Du Bois: Suppression of Slave Trade, p. 5.]

[Footnote 17: M'Call: Hist. of Ga., II., 125.]

[Footnote 18: N.C. Colonial Records, Vol. II., p. 17.]

[Footnote 19: Bassett: Slavery and Servitude in N.C., pages 20-22. In
J.H.U. Studies, Vol. XIV.]

[Footnote 20: Scharf: Hist. of Md., Vol. I., 376-7. N.C. Colonial
Records, Vol. I., 693.]

[Footnote 21: The Assiento was a treaty between England and Spain, by
which Spain granted England a monopoly of the Spanish colonial slave
trade for thirty years. Du Bois: Suppression of Slave Trade, p. 3.]

[Footnote 22: Du Bois: Suppression of Slave Trade, p. 4-6.]

[Footnote 23: Du Bois: Suppression of Slave Trade, Appendix A.]

[Footnote 24: Ibid., pp. 4-5.]

[Footnote 25: N.C. Col. Rec., Vol. V., 1118.]

[Footnote 26: Du Bois: Suppression of Slave Trade, pp. 42-8.]

[Footnote 27: Ford: Jefferson's Works, Vol. II., 23.]

[Footnote 28: De Bow's: Industrial Resources, Vol. III., 130.
Liberator: Feb. 23, 1849.]

[Footnote 29: Hening; Statutes at Large, Vol. IX., p. 471.]

[Footnote 30: Chap. on Laws, C. VII., this book. Du Bois: Suppres. Sl.
Trade, Appendices A. and B.]

[Footnote 31: Ibid. Schouler: Hist. U.S., Vol. II., p. 56.

Chap. VII. on Laws, this volume.]

[Footnote 32: Annals of Congress, 8th Cong., 1st Sess., 1000.]

[Footnote 33: Poore: Fed. and State Constitutions, Part 2, 1050.]

[Footnote 34: Ibid.]

[Footnote 35: Du Bois: Suppression of Slave Trade, pp. 89-90.]

[Footnote 36: McCord: S.C. Statutes at Large, Vol. VII., p. 449. Du
Bois: p. 240.]

[Footnote 37: Annals of Congress, 16 Con., 2nd Sess., p. 77.]

[Footnote 38: Du Bois: pp. 91-3.]

[Footnote 39: Annals of Cong., 9 Cong., 2 Sess., Appendix 1266-72.]

[Footnote 40: House Doc., 15 Cong., 2 Sess., IV., No. 84, p. 5.]

[Footnote 41: Drake: Revelations of a Slave Smuggler, 51, quoted by Du
Bois, p. 11.]

[Footnote 42: Vincent Nolte: Fifty Years in Both Hemispheres, p. 189.]

[Footnote 43: Niles' Reg., May 2, 1818.]

[Footnote 44: State Papers, 1st Sess., 16th Cong., Vol. 3, H. Doc. 42.]

[Footnote 45: Niles' Reg., Jan. 22, 1820.]

[Footnote 46: Ibid., Dec. 12, 1818, Louisiana had a law which provided
that slaves imported contrary to Act of Congress, March 2, 1807, should
be seized and sold for benefit of the State. (Hurd, Vol. II., p. 159.)
But the whole story is denied by another writer. (Niles' Reg., Dec. 12,

[Footnote 47: Niles' Reg., Dec. 12, 1818.]

[Footnote 48: Wm. Jay: Miscell. Writings on Slavery, p. 277.]

[Footnote 49: Du Bois: Pp. 118-122.]

[Footnote 50: Ibid., p. 128.]

[Footnote 51: Alexander: Transatlantic Sketches, p. 230.]

[Footnote 52: Buxton: The African Slave Trade, p. 44.]

[Footnote 53: Liberator: Aug. 18, 1854.]

[Footnote 54: Revelations of a Slave Smuggler, p. 98. Quoted by Du
Bois, p. 166.]

[Footnote 55: 27 Report Am. Anti-Slavery So., p. 20. Du Bois: P. 181.]

[Footnote 56: 27 Report Am. Anti-Sl. So., p. 21. Du Bois, p. 182.]

[Footnote 57: J.J. Lalor: Cyclopedia, Vol. III., p. 733.]

[Footnote 58: This is little more than the estimate which Du Bois made
before he wrote his book, "Suppression of the Slave Trade." "From 1807
to 1862 there were annually introduced into the United States from
1,000 to 15,000 Africans, and that the total number thus brought in in
contravention alike of humanity and law was not less than 250,000."
"Enforcement of Slave Trade Laws," in the Annual Report of the Am.
Hist. Assoc. for the year 1891, p. 173. The estimate of 270,000 in the
text was made after careful study, and before the writer knew of Du
Bois' estimate.]



The prohibition of the foreign slave trade by the States and the
Federal Government is the first thing to be considered in connection
with the development of the internal slave trade. Although before 1808
all the States had passed laws to prohibit the introduction of slaves
from without the United States, yet each State had the power to reopen
the trade at will. South Carolina, perhaps, thinking it might be for
the interest of the State, opened the foreign trade in 1803.[59] During
the four years following so many slaves were imported that the market
in the United States became overstocked and many of the negroes were
sent to the West Indies for sale.[60] Had the States retained the
power to import, it is not probable that the domestic trade would ever
have assumed any great importance. It is not likely that the people of
the South and West would have paid high prices for the negroes from the
border States when they could have been had from abroad for so much

The great profits, too, which induced men to carry on the domestic
trade would have been wanting. Assuming this, then, the consequent low
price of slaves in the border slave States, added to the disinclination
of many in these States to make merchandise of the negro, might have
led, as the negroes increased and became a burden upon their masters,
to gradual emancipation.

In 1807, however, when Congress exercised its constitutional right and
prohibited the importation of slaves from without the United States
after January 1, 1808, the right of the individual States to import
slaves from foreign countries was lost.

It is interesting to note that only a few years before the passage of
the Federal non-importation-slave act the vast territory of Louisiana
had been purchased from France. The acquisition of this territory
had a wonderful influence upon the development and continuance of the
internal slave trade.

Of much less influence, and we might even say, of comparative
insignificance, was the Florida cession of 1819. In a very short
time this fertile region of the Louisiana purchase began to attract
great numbers of immigrants who, it seems, often brought their slaves
with them. But there were many who still had to be supplied.[61] To
meet this demand' recourse was had, principally, to the exhausted
plantations of Virginia and Maryland.[62]

Tobacco, which had been a great agricultural staple in these States,
had worn out the land. The price of tobacco, too, from about 1818
was very low and continued so until about 1840.[63] At the same time
new States such as Kentucky, Tennessee, Missouri, the Carolinas and
Georgia, had become great tobacco States. Such quantities came to
be raised as to make the culture very unprofitable in Virginia and
Maryland.[64] The condition with respect to this section could be no
better illustrated than by a quotation from a speech of Thomas Marshall
in the Virginia House of Delegates, January 20, 1832:

"Mr. Taylor, of Carolina," he says, "had understood that 60,000
hogsheads of tobacco were exported from Virginia, when the whole
population did not exceed 150,000. Had the fertility of the country
by possibility remained undiminished, Virginia ought in 1810 to have
exported 240,000 hogsheads, or their equivalent in other produce,
and at present nearly double that. Thus the agricultural exports of
Virginia in 1810 would, at the estimated prices of the Custom House at
that time, have been seventeen millions of dollars and now at least
thirty-four, while it is known that they are not of late years greater
than from three to five millions....

"The fact that the whole agricultural products of the State at present,
do not exceed in value the exports eighty or ninety years ago, when it
contained not a sixth of the population, and when not a third of the
surface of that State (at present Virginia) was at all occupied, is,
however, a striking proof of the decline of its agriculture. What is
now the productive value of an estate of land and negroes in Virginia?
We state as the result of extensive inquiry, embracing the last
fifteen, years, that a very great proportion of the larger plantations,
with from fifty to one hundred slaves, actually bring their proprietors
in debt at the end of a short term of years, notwithstanding what would
once in Virginia have been deemed very sheer economy, that much the
larger part of the considerable landholders are content, if they barely
meet their plantation expenses without a loss of capital; and that of
those who make any profit, it will be none but rare instances, average
more than one and a half per cent. on the capital invested. The case
is not materially varied with the smaller proprietors. Mr. Randolph,
of Roanoke, whose sayings have so generally the raciness and the truth
of proverbs, has repeatedly said in Congress, that the time was coming
when the masters would run away from the slaves and be advertised by
them in the public papers."[65]

It seems that agriculture had taken a new start about 1816, probably
owing to the fact that tobacco was very high, being from 8 to 15 cents
per pound,[66] for Colonel Mercer in the Virginia Constitutional
Convention of 1829 said that in 1817 the lands of Virginia were valued
at $206,000,000 and that negroes averaged $300 each, while by 1829
lands had decreased in value to $80,000,000 or $90,000,000 and negroes
to $150 each.[67] But while agriculture was in such a discouraging
condition in the worn out States, Louisiana and other States of the
Southwest were being opened up and were looked on as the land of
promise. Immigrants to that favored section wrote glowing accounts of
the fertility of the country and of the delightful climate. An emigrant
from Maryland writes from Louisiana in 1817:

"Do not the climate, the soil and productions of this country furnish
allurements to the application of your negroes on our lands? In your
States a planter, with ten negroes, with difficulty supports a family
genteelly; here well managed, they would be a fortune to him. With you
the seasons are so irregular your crops often fail; here the crops are
certain, and want of the necessaries of life, never for a moment causes
the heart to ache--abundance spreads the table of the poor man and
contentment smiles on every countenance."[68]

In marked contrast to the unprofitableness of slave labor in the older
slave States was their immense profit when employed on the fresh
lands of the Southwest. Some planters in this section had plantations
thousands of acres in extent.[69] To cultivate them great numbers of
slaves were required. If the crop were cotton one negro was needed for
every three acres and these would yield cotton to the value of $240
to $260. The master realized upon each negro employed at least $200
annually.[70] The income of some of these plantations was immense. It
was not uncommon for a planter in Mississippi and Louisiana to have an
income of $30,000, and some of them even $80,000 to $120,000 (1820).[71]

The enormous profits caused slaves to be very high in this section
and in great demand. There were only two possible sources of
supply:--first, the illicit traffic already spoken of; second, the
domestic slave trade. A good negro from twenty to thirty years of age
would command from $800 to $1,200.[72] Indeed, it is stated that at
one time during this early period they sold for as much as $2,000.[73]
This fact in connection with the fact that in 1817 the average price
of a negro in Virginia was only $300, and the depreciation by 1829
to $150, gives us the reason for the rise of the domestic slave
trade. It was over and again stated in the Virginia Legislature of
1832 that the value of negroes in Virginia was regulated not by their
profitableness at home but by the Southwestern demand.[74] The great
difference in the price of slaves in the buying States and the selling
States was an inducement to a certain class of men to engage in the
business of buying them up and carrying them South. The profits were
from one-third to one-half on an average after expenses were paid.[75]
Slave traders soon got rich. Williams, a Washington dealer, boasted in
1850 that he made $30,000 in a few months.[76] It is said the firm of
Franklin & Armfield, of Alexandria, made $33,000 in 1829.[77] In 1834
Armfield, of this same firm, was reputed to be worth nearly $500,000
which he had accumulated in the business.[78] Ingraham tells of a man
who had amassed more than a million dollars in this traffic.[79] More
instances might be given but this is enough to show that the traffic
was profitable.

The cultivation of rice[80] and sugar, especially sugar, used up slaves
rapidly. As a consequence slaves were in demand in the rice and sugar
sections, not only because of the expansion of these industries, but
to take the place of those that died. In 1829 the statement was made
in a report of the Agricultural Society of Baton Rouge, Louisiana,
that the annual loss of life on well conducted sugar plantations was
two and one-half per cent. more than the annual increase. In 1830, the
Hon. J.L. Johnson in a letter to the Secretary of the Treasury gave
evidence of a thorough study of the subject and arrived at the same

We come now to consider the one thing, the prime factor, which brought
about the wonderful agricultural prosperity of the Southwest--_cotton_.
Sugar and rice could only be grown in certain limited sections. Rice
principally in South Carolina and sugar in Louisiana; but the cotton
field came to cover the larger part of nine great States.

Until toward the end of the eighteenth century the production of
cotton in this country was very small. In 1793, however, Eli Whitney
invented his machine for separating the seed from the cotton. This
soon revolutionized the industry. While the cotton crop of the United
States in 1793 was only 5,000,000 pounds, by 1808 it had increased to
80,000,000, and remained about the same or rather declined during the
war of 1812, but the very year peace was established its production
went up to 100,000,000 pounds, and the year following (1816) to
125,000,000. By 1834 it had grown to 460,000,000.[82] During the whole
of this period, with slight fluctuations, cotton continued high, but
after 1835 it began to decline and reached low-water mark at the
average price of 5-3/4 cents per pound in 1845, which was scarcely
the cost of production.[83] However, the crop of 1839 according to
the census reports was 790,479,275 pounds, nearly double the crop
of the five years previous. During the next decade though the price
went up after 1845[84] the crop increased less than 200,000,000
pounds being only 987,637,200 in 1849, but during the following ten
years it more than doubled, being 2,397,238,140 pounds in 1859.[85]
Of this enormous crop the four States of Mississippi, Alabama,
Louisiana and Georgia produced more than two-thirds, while Virginia
contributed about 1,400.[86] But Virginia and North Carolina in
1801 had produced more than two-fifths of the cotton raised in the
country. In 1826 when, according to the official reports they reached
their greatest production, Virginia grew 25,000,000 pounds and North
Carolina 18,000,000, or nearly five times as much as in 1801, yet this
proportion had fallen to about one-seventh. Eight years afterward
Virginia's crop had fallen to 10,000,000 pounds and North Carolina's to
9,500,000,[87] and their production continued to decline.[88] Hammond
says that "the higher cost of raising cotton in the more northern
latitudes, and the uncertainty of the plant reaching maturity before
the arrival of the frosts, prevented the rapid growth of cotton culture
in these States after 1830 which took place elsewhere, especially as
the continual decline in the price of the staple only emphasized the
disadvantages under which the planters of these States labored."[89]

But while decline was noticeable in the Northern States, the States
at the Southwest were going ahead by leaps and bounds. The same year
(1843) Alabama, Mississippi, and Louisiana, from which no cotton had
been reported in 1801, produced together 232,000,000 pounds, while
South Carolina increased its crops from 2,000,000 to 65,500,000 and
Georgia from 10,000,000 to 75,000,000 pounds during the same time.[90]

As the cotton field extended of course the demand for labor increased
and that labor was necessarily negro slave labor, for it was thought
that the white man could not endure work under a tropical sun, while
the organism of the negro was especially adapted to it.[91] As a
consequence negroes were secured from every possible source.

In short, negroes and cotton soon came to be inseparably associated.
The amount of cotton that could be raised depended upon the number of
negroes to be secured to work it. The value of a negro was measured by
his usefulness in the cotton field.[92] De Bow estimated that in 1850
out of the 2,500,000 slaves in the Southern States about 1,800,000[93]
of them, or nearly three-fourths were engaged in the cotton industry,
leaving for all other purposes only about 700,000, or about the same
number as there was in the whole United States in 1790, at which time
the production of cotton was only 1,500,000 pounds.[94] Thus it
is seen that while cotton demanded all the increase of slaves from
whatever source from that time forward all other things merely held
their own. However, if we subtract the number engaged in the sugar
industry, which was 150,000[95] in 1850 for the reason that it was a
new crop developed during the early part of the century,[96] it is
noticed that other things lost. From this we conclude it was only
natural that the surplus slave population of the older slave States
where it was useless was to be drained off to the cotton States. Some
of the Southern papers, notably the "Richmond Enquirer," over and again
called attention to the relation of cotton and negroes. In 1859 it says:

"The price of cotton it is well known pretty much regulates the price
of slaves in the South, and a bale of cotton and a 'likely nigger' are
about well balanced in the scale of pecuniary appreciation."[97]


[Footnote 59: McCord: S.C. Statutes at Large, Vol. VII., p. 449.]

[Footnote 60: Annals of Congress, 16 Cong., 2 Sess., p. 77.]

[Footnote 61: (Ingraham): The Southwest, Vol. II., p. 223.]

[Footnote 62: Alexander: Transatlantic Sketches, p. 250. Basil Hall:
Travels in N. Am., Vol. II., p. 217.]

[Footnote 63: Hunt's: Merchants' Magazine, Vol. VI., p. 473.]

[Footnote 64: Speech of Thomas Marshall in Va., H. Del., 1832. Richmond
Enquirer, Feb. 2, 1832.]

[Footnote 65: Richmond Enquirer, Feb. 2, 1832.]

[Footnote 66: Hunt's: Merchants' Magazine, VI., p. 473.]

[Footnote 67: Proceedings and Debate of the Va. St. Con. Con., 1829-30,
p. 178.]

[Footnote 68: Niles' Reg., Sept. 13, 1817; for another such letter see
Ibid., October 18, 1817.]

[Footnote 69: Smedes: Memorials of a Southern Planter, p. 47.]

[Footnote 70: Christian Scutz: Travels on an Inland Voyage, Vol. II.,
p. 186.

David Blowe: Geographical, Commercial and Agricultural View of U.S., p.

[Footnote 71: David Blowe: Geographical, Commercial and Agricultural
View of U.S. of Am., p. 643. (1820?)]

[Footnote 72: Ibid., p. 618.]

[Footnote 73: Claiborne: Miss. as a Province, Territory and State, Vol.
I., p. 144.]

[Footnote 74: Mr. Gholson in Va. Leg. Richmond Enquirer, Jan. 24, 1832.
Mr. Goode, ibid., Jan. 19, 1832.]

[Footnote 75: (Ingraham): The Southwest, Vol. 4, p. 234.

Vigne: Six Months in Am., p. 117.

Alexander: Transatlantic Sketches, p. 230.]

[Footnote 76: Liberator, Sept. 6, 1850.]

[Footnote 77: Mary Tremain: Slavery in D.C., p. 50.]

[Footnote 78: Abdy: Journal of a Residence and Tour in the U.S., Vol.
II., p. 180.]

[Footnote 79: (Ingraham): The Southwest. Vol. II., p. 245.]

[Footnote 80: Basil Hall: Travels in North America, 218-223.]

[Footnote 81: Stearns: Notes on Uncle Tom's Cabin, 174-5.]

[Footnote 82: Woodbury's Report: 24th Cong., 1st Sess. Ex. Doc. 146, p.

[Footnote 83: De Bow's Review: Vol. XXIII., p. 475.]

[Footnote 84: Hammond: Cotton Ind., Ap. 1.]

[Footnote 85: Census of 1890. Statistics of Agri., p. 42.]

[Footnote 86: Ibid.]

[Footnote 87: Woodbury's Report, p. 13.]

[Footnote 88: Census, 1890. Statistics of Agri., p. 42.]

[Footnote 89: Hammond: The Cotton Industry, p. 49.]

[Footnote 90: Woodbury's Report, p. 13.]

[Footnote 91: Van Enrie: Negroes and Negro Slavery, p. 171.

Parkinson: Tour in America, Vol. II., p. 421.]

[Footnote 92: Olmsted: Cotton Kingdom. Vol. I., 15-16. Ibid.: Seaboard
Slave States, p. 278.]

[Footnote 93: De Bow: Compendium, 7th Census, p. 94.]

[Footnote 94: Woodbury's Report, p. 7.]

[Footnote 95: De Bow: Compendium, 7th Census, p. 94.]

[Footnote 96: Ibid.: Industrial Resources, Vol. III., p. 275.]

[Footnote 97: Richmond Enquirer, July 29, 1859.]



We have already discussed the causes of the domestic slave trade. In
this chapter it is our purpose, chiefly, to consider its amount and

In this connection our first object will be to determine whether it
was carried on as a business before 1808. It appears that there were
exchanges of slaves going on among the States and territories before
this time, but whether this was anything more than of an occasional or
incidental nature is a question.

The statutes of some of the States give some light along this line.
South Carolina in 1792 prohibited the introduction of slaves either
by land or sea.[98] Delaware, however, as early as 1787, passed a law
which recites that: "Sundry negroes and mulattoes, as well freeman as
slaves, have been exported and sold into other States, contrary to the
principles of humanity and justice, and derogatory to the honor of this

This law prohibited their exportation without a permit.[99] It seems to
have been something more than merely incidental for it was amended in
1793, as follows:

"That from and after the first Tuesday of October next, the justice of
the Court of General Quarter Sessions and Jail Delivery, or any two of
them, shall have the like power to grant a licence or permit to export,
sell or carry out for sale, any negro or mulatto slave from this State
that five justices of the peace in open Sessions now have."[100]

We have evidence to show that, by 1802, Alexandria, in the District of
Columbia, had become a sort of depot for the sale of slaves, and that
men visited it from distant parts of the United States in order to
purchase them.[101]

About this time slaves were in great demand and very high in
Mississippi,[102] and probably, also, in the new States of Kentucky
and Tennessee.[103] However, it is not to be supposed that the great
increase of the slave population in these sections before 1815 was
due, to any great extent, to the domestic slave trade. There were five
causes which may be assigned for this increase, of which the domestic
trade was, probably, among the least, if not the least. No doubt,
the most important was the immigration of slave holders with their
slaves.[104] This immigration was considerable: the white population
of Tennessee and Kentucky nearly trebled between 1790 and 1800,
and between 1800 and 1810 it about doubled, and the population of
Mississippi more than quadrupled between 1800 and 1810. Slaves, also,
increased in as great a ratio.[105] Second, we consider the South
Carolina slave trade from 1804 to 1807 inclusive. From a speech of
Mr. Smith of South were sold in the Carolinas, but that the most of
Carolina in the United States Senate, December 8, 1820, we learn that
only a small part of the negroes introduced in consequence of this
trade them were bought by the people of the Western and Southwestern
States and territories.[106] Third, was the natural increase. Fourth
would be the illegal foreign slave trade,[107] and fifth is the
domestic trade. It is impossible to more than approximate the relative
importance of these factors.

However, it seems very unlikely that the domestic trade was of much
consequence before 1815. Whatever impetus it may have received on
account of the demand for slaves just prior to the South Carolina
trade, must have been checked by the consequent heavy importation from
abroad. For, on account of this, slaves fell in price, as it is said
adults, at this time, generally sold in the Southwest at one hundred
dollars each.[108]

If the domestic slave trade had assumed any importance, or even if it
had been going on at all before 1815, it seems more than likely that
it would have been remarked by travellers, many of whom, both English
and American, visited the Southwest and other sections of the country
during the period in question. But so far as we can find, none of them
make any mention of it whatever.[109] The newspapers of the time, also,
are silent in regard to the matter. Doubtless the rise and development
of the trade was hindered or delayed by the War of 1812,[110] but
almost immediately after the close of the war, it comes into notice
and even prominence. In 1816 Paulding in his "Letters from the South"
writes of it from personal observation, and also tells of a man who had
even thus early made money in the business.[111]

At this time, indeed, conditions were very favorable to a growth of
the domestic trade. The general prosperity and the high price of
agricultural products, especially cotton and sugar,[112] caused a great
demand for slave labor for the new and fertile lands of the South and
Southwest. In 1817 and 1818 the buying up of negroes for these markets
was fast becoming a regular business, and it was a very common thing
to see gangs of them chained and marching toward the South.[113] They
were collected from various places by dealers and shipped down the
Mississippi River in flat-boats. Fourteen of these loaded with slaves
for sale were seen at Natchez at once about this time.[114]

The statement was made that 8,000 slaves were carried into Georgia
in 1817 from the Northern slave holding States.[115] It would seem
probable that the greater part of these may have been introduced by
immigrants. However, the slave trade must have been great, for on
December 20, 1817, the Georgia legislature passed a law to prohibit at
once the importation of slaves for sale.[116]

Between 1810 and 1820 slaves in the four States of Georgia,
Mississippi, Tennessee and Louisiana in round numbers increased from
202,000 to 332,000,[117] and in some of the other States the increase
was about as great. During the same time the white population in the
States named increased from 419,000 to 645,000.[118] By far the greater
part of this increase took place after 1815. To prove this we will take
Louisiana as an example. In 1810 she had a population of 76,500,[119]
and in 1815 near the close of the year her population, according to
Monette, did not exceed 90,000,[120] an increase of only 12,000; but
in 1820 it amounted to 154,000, of which more than 73,000 were negro
slaves.[121] It appears that the slaves in Louisiana increased only
about 2,000 or 2,500 from 1810 to 1815, but between 1815 and 1820
there was an increase of about 37,000.[122] This wonderful increase in
population in the West and Southwest is to be accounted for by the
fact that after the close of the War of 1812 immigration again set in
these directions, and, as most of the immigrants without doubt were
from the older Southern States, they carried with them the slaves which
they had in their native States.[123] Another source from which this
region received slaves at this time was through the operation of the
illicit foreign trade. It is probable that 10,000 or 15,000 a year were
thus introduced.[124] It therefore seems that up to this time to the
domestic trade is due probably only a minor part of the increase of the
slave population of this section.

During the twenties, however, if we are to give credit to the
statements of travellers, the trade reached very great proportions.
Baltimore, Norfolk, Richmond, Washington and other places had already
become centres. Agents were placed in these cities to attend to
purchase and shipment. "And thousands and tens of thousands," such is
the language of an English tourist, were purchased in Virginia and
Maryland for sale in Georgia, Louisiana and other States.[125] Blane,
another Englishman, who visited the United States about the same time,
is more to the point.

"It is computed," he says, "that every year from ten to fifteen
thousand slaves are sold from the States of Delaware, Maryland and
Virginia and sent to the South."[126]

Basil Hall was informed, in 1827 or 1828, that during certain seasons
of the year, "all the roads, steamboats and packets are crowded with
troops of negroes on their way to the slave markets of the South.[127]
Vessels, indeed, from the selling States were sometimes seen in New
Orleans with as many as two hundred negroes aboard."[128]

This transportation of negroes from the border States to the South
and Southwest from about 1826 to 1832 may be partly accounted for by
the probable falling off in the illicit importations[129] and by the
fact that cotton and tobacco, which were the staples of some of the
border States, were comparatively low in price,[130] making them very
unprofitable crops to cultivate in these States. The cotton raised
in North Carolina and Virginia decreased almost half during this
time.[131] While it appears as if the lower price of cotton merely had
the effect in the new States to increase the acreage in order to make
up for the deficiency in price. In the new States there was a wonderful
increase in production during this period.[132] Slaves, therefore, were
of much less productive value in the border States, while in the new
States the demand for them was scarcely lessened.

The "New Orleans Mercantile Advertiser," of January 21, 1830, says:

"Arrivals by sea and river, within a few days, have added fearfully to
the number of slaves brought to this market for sale. New Orleans is
the complete mart for the slave trade--and the Mississippi is becoming
a common highway for the traffic."[133]

In the summer of 1831, New Orleans imported 371 negroes in one week,
nearly all of whom were from Virginia.[134]

In the same year, August 1831, an insurrection of slaves, in which a
number of white people were murdered, occurred in Southampton County,
Virginia.[135] This caused much excitement throughout the slave
States. It opened the eyes of the people to the danger of a large
slave population. It seemed, for a while, that it would have a very
detrimental effect upon the domestic slave trade, for several importing
States began to consider the advisability of prohibiting the further
introduction of slaves. Two of the largest importing States,[136]
indeed, passed such laws: Louisiana, which, in March, 1831, had
repealed her law regulating the importation of slaves[137] in November
of the same year, at an extra session of her legislature enacted a law
against their importation for sale.[138] And, in January, 1832, Alabama
followed suit.[139]

The Virginia Legislature of 1831-2, also took up the question
of slavery and with open doors vigorously discussed methods of
emancipation, and of getting rid of the negro population. It was
recognized that the value of slaves in Virginia depended greatly upon
the Southern and Western markets. It was feared that other buying
States would follow the lead of Louisiana, thus cutting off the outlet
of Virginia's surplus slaves, and while the whites were constantly
emigrating, the rapidly increasing black population would tend to
become congested in the State, producing a condition of society
alarming to contemplate.[140]

But these forebodings were far from ever being realized. Indeed, even
before the end of the year the conjunction of two causes produced a
great demand for slaves and they were soon higher in price than they
had been for years. First, planters from the cotton-growing States
visited Virginia in great numbers in order to make purchases of slaves,
doubtless, thinking they could buy cheaply, as it seemed that on
account of the Southampton Insurrection Virginia was determined to get
rid of her slaves at all hazards.[141] Second, the most important was
the advance in price of cotton. This began, also, in 1832. It continued
to rise for several years and by 1836 it had doubled in price,[142]
while by 1839 its production, also, had nearly doubled. This increase
was due almost wholly to the South and Southwest, Mississippi alone
producing nearly one-fourth of the entire crop.[143]

As a consequence we should expect to note a corresponding briskness in
the slave trade. Such, indeed, was the case. We have no reason to think
that more slaves were ever exported to the South from the Northern
slave States during any equal period of time than there were from 1832
to 1836 inclusive. Of these 1836 is easily the banner year.

In 1832 it was estimated by Prof. Dew that Virginia annually exported
for sale to other States 6,000 slaves.[144] During the thirties, or
even before the slave trade was carried on between the selling and
buying States with about the same regularity as the exchanges of
cotton, flour, sugar and rice.[145] Vessels engaged in the business
advertised their accommodations. One trader, John Armfield, had three
which were scheduled to leave Alexandria for New Orleans, alternately,
the first and fifteenth of each month during the shipping season.[146]

That the trade had become extensive is evidenced by the newspapers.
Up to 1820 it was very uncommon to find a trader's advertisement in
a newspaper, but even before 1830 such advertisements had become very
plentiful. One could hardly pick up a paper published in the selling
States, especially those of the Eastern Shore of Maryland and Eastern
Virginia, without finding one or more. These advertisements often
continued from month to month and from year to year.[147]

An example or two may be interesting:

"Cash for Negroes:--I wish to purchase 600 or 700 negroes for the New
Orleans market, and will give more than any purchaser that is now or
hereafter may come into the market." Richard C. Woolfolk.[148]

"Cash for Negroes:--We will give cash for 200 negroes between the
ages of 15 and 25 years old of both sexes. Those having that kind of
property for sale will find it to their interest to give us a call."
Finnall and Freeman.[149]

The number of slaves currently estimated to have been transported to
the South and Southwest during 1835 and 1836 almost staggers belief.
The "Maryville (Tenn.) Intelligencer" made the statement in 1836 that
in 1835 60,000 slaves passed through a Western town on their way to the
Southern market.[150] Also, in 1836, the "Virginia (Wheeling) Times"
says, intelligent men estimated the number of slaves exported from
Virginia during the preceding twelve months as 120,000 of whom about
two-thirds were carried there by their masters, leaving 40,000 to have
been sold.[151] The "Quarterly Anti-Slavery Magazine," July 1837, gives
the "Natchez Courier" as authority for the estimate that during 1836,
250,000 slaves were transported to Alabama, Mississippi, Louisiana
and Arkansas from the older slave States.[152] A committee, in 1837,
appointed by the citizens of Mobile to enquire into the cause of the
prevalent financial stringency stated in their report that for the
preceding four years Alabama had annually purchased from other States
$10,000,000 worth of slave property.[153]

When the panic of 1837 came upon Mississippi, it was thought, it seems,
to have been caused through the amount of money sent out of the State
in the purchase of slaves, and Governor Lynch, upon the petition of the
people, convened the legislature in extra session, and in his message
to it says:

"The question which presents itself and which I submit for your
deliberation [is]--whether the passage of an act prohibiting the
introduction of slaves into this State as merchandise may not have a
salutary effect in checking the drain of capital annually made upon us
by the sale of this description of property."[154]

The panic of 1837 caused a falling off in the domestic slave trade, and
the low price of cotton which continued until 1846[155] hindered its
revival. The falling off in the trade is shown by the fact that the
per cent. of increase in the slave population of the cotton States was
scarcely half as great between 1840 and 1850 as during the previous
decade.[156] The slave trade, however, seems to have become brisker
in 1843, for while only 2,000 slaves are said to have been sold in
Washington in 1842, in 1843, 5,000 were sold there.[157] It does not
necessarily follow, however, that all these were sent South. The
increased number of sales was caused by two things: the decline in the
price of tobacco,[158] and the renewed activity in the sugar industry
incident upon a new duty on sugar.[159] This gave rise to a demand for
slave labor upon the sugar plantations of the South, but it was a very
limited demand. During this period the decline in the value of slaves
was great in some States,[160] and it appears very probable there was
a general depreciation in value. However, before 1850 three important
things had happened, each of which had an effect upon the slave trade.
First, the admission of Texas, December, 1845; second, the gradual
increase in the price of cotton after 1845; third, the discovery
of gold in California. The first opened a large cotton country to
development and the required slave labor could be legally supplied
only from the United States. The rise in cotton which continued almost
uniformly until 1860[161] caused a new impetus to be given to its
culture, and the discovery of gold in California infused new life into
all the channels of trade.

In a few years, indeed, after 1845, the demand for slaves seems to have
been greater than the supply. A writer in the "Richmond Examiner," in
1849, says:

"It being a well ascertained fact that Virginia and Maryland will not
be able to supply the great demand for negroes which will be wanted
in the South this fall and next spring, we would advise all who are
compelled to dispose of them in this market to defer selling until the
sales of the present crop of cotton can be realized as the price then
must be very high owing to two reasons: First, the ravages of the
cholera, and secondly, the high price of cotton."[162]

Indeed, during the fifteen years prior to 1860 the demand for slaves
became so great that it caused an increase of one hundred per cent.
in their price.[163] However, there was not a great increase in the
domestic slave trade. According to a custom house report there were
shipped from Baltimore in a little less than two years, in 1851 and
1852 only 1,033 negroes.[164] This is certainly not a large showing
though it is probable a great many were sent overland to the South from
this place during the same time.

In a speech before the Southern Convention at Savannah in 1856, Mr.
Scott, of Virginia, made the statement that not more than half the
lands in the sugar and cotton-growing States had been reduced to
cultivation, and that all the valuable slaves in Virginia, Maryland,
Kentucky and Missouri would be required to develop them.[165] But at
this time the prosperity of the latter militated against the transfer
of labor to the cotton-growing States. Probably the conditions in the
border States is best described by quoting from a writer in "De Bow's
Review" in 1857:

"The difficulty," he says, "of procuring slaves at reasonable rates,
has already been severely felt by the cotton planters, and this
difficulty is constantly increasing. The production of rice, tobacco,
wheat, Indian corn, etc., with stock raising, in those States affords
nearly as profitable employment for slave labor as cotton planting in
other States. They have not, as is generally supposed, a redundancy
of slave labor, nor are they likely to have so long as their present
prosperity continues.

"The recent full development of the rich agricultural and mineral
resources of these States, indeed, by an immense demand for their
staple productions, have not only given profitable employment to
slave labor, but has improved the pecuniary condition of the slave
owner and placed him above the necessity of parting with his slave

Even Olmsted, inadvertently, no doubt, gives evidence of the prosperity
of Virginia, a little before this time, when he says that in the
tobacco factories of Richmond and Petersburg slaves were in great
demand and received a hundred and fifty to two hundred dollars and
expenses a year.[167] In North Carolina, also, good hands would bring
about the same wages.[168]

Though the labor market in the border States was greater than the
natural increase of the negro, yet it was hardly to be compared to the
Southern demand. As a consequence, when debt, or necessity, or other
reason, compelled the sale of slaves, they were often bought by traders
and exported.[169] The statement was made by Mr. Jones, of Georgia,
in the Savannah Convention, 1856, that negroes were even then worth
from $1,000 to $1,500 each, and that there were ten purchasers to one

Indeed, so great was the demand for slaves at this time that the
advisability of reopening the African slave trade became one of the
principal topics of discussion in Southern Agricultural and Commercial
Conventions.[171] In fact, the Vicksburg Convention, 1859, passed a
resolution in favor of reopening the African trade.[172]

The New Orleans newspapers during all this period give evidence of the
domestic trade. It was very common during the shipping season to see
advertisements to the effect that the subscriber, a negro trader, had
received, or had just arrived from Virginia, Maryland, the Carolinas
or elsewhere, with a large lot of negroes which were offered for
sale. Usually the number would be given as fifty, seventy-five, or
even a hundred. This would be qualified by the statement that they
would be constantly receiving fresh lots. The same advertisement would
continue in the same paper for months and even years. Sometimes half
a dozen of these could be found in a single issue of a paper. It
would be impossible even to approximate from this source the number
sold during any given time, for it is likely the number offered for
sale bore but little relation to the actual number sold. The States of
Maryland, Virginia and the Carolinas were most conspicuous in these

Writers on the subject seem to be pretty well agreed that during this
period, or during the fifties, about 25,000 slaves were annually sold
South from the Northern slave States.[174]

It is interesting to notice in this connection what the Census Reports
have to show. But in reading it should be remembered that no account
is taken of the sale of slaves except as they took place between the
buying and selling States. So the sale of slaves between Virginia and
Maryland are not indicated nor those between Mississippi and Alabama.

The slave population of Alabama, Arkansas, Georgia, Louisiana,
Mississippi, South Carolina, Tennessee and Missouri in 1820 was in
round numbers 644,000, in 1830 997,000 being an increase of 353,000.
The slave population in the selling States of Virginia, Maryland,
Delaware, North Carolina, Kentucky and the District of Columbia at
the same periods[175] was 873,000 and 993,000 respectively, being an
increase in these States of 120,000. Total increase of slaves in both
sections during the decade, 473,000, from which we deduct 50,000 due
to the illicit foreign traffic,[176] leaving 423,000 from natural
increase or about 28 per cent. Had the selling States increased at
this ratio, instead of 120,000 their increase would have been 244,000.
This would seem to indicate that at least 12,400 annually were carried
South during this decade. However, only the smaller part of these, and
those of the following decade as well, were transported through the
operation of the domestic slave trade. Mr. P.A. Morse, of Louisiana,
writing in 1857, says that the augmentation of slaves within the cotton
States was caused mostly by the migration of slave owners.[177] The
"Virginia Times," in 1836, says of the number of slaves exported during
the preceding twelve months "not more than one-third have been sold,
the others having been carried by their owners who have removed."[178]
We conclude from these and other sources[179] that at least
three-fifths of the removals of slaves from the border slave States to
those farther South from 1820 to 1850 were due to emigration.[180]
Thus it is shown that probably 5,000[181] slaves were annually exported
by the selling States from 1820 to 1830 by means of the domestic trade.

In the next decade adding Florida to the buying State and transferring
South Carolina[182] and Missouri[183] to the selling list, we find
that in 1830 and in 1840 the buying States had 672,000 and 1,127,000
respectively, being an increase of 455,000; while for the same periods
the selling States had 1,333,000 and 1,361,000, being an increase of
28,000. The whole increase, therefore, was 483,000,[184] deducting
40,000 due to illicit foreign trade,[185] we have 443,000 or about 22
per cent. as the natural increase. Had the selling States increased at
same rate it would have been 293,000 for the decade. Deducting 28,000
we find that 265,000 can be accounted for only as having been exported.
Deducting three-fifths for emigration we have, removing 106,000 for the
domestic traffic, an average of 10,600 per year.

By 1850, the buying States had another increase of 478,000 and the
selling States 180,000. Total increase from 1840 to 1850, 658,000.[186]
Deducting 50,000 illicitly imported,[187] we have 606,000 or about 24
per cent. total increase. Accordingly the selling States should have a
natural increase of 326,000. Deducting the actual number we have left
146,000, which must have been transported. Deducting three-fifths on
account of emigration, there would remain about 58,000 or nearly 6,000
per year for the domestic trade.

Adding Texas to the buying States in 1850, they then have 1,663,000,
and in 1860 2,296,000, or an increase of 633,000 during the decade.
And the selling States 1,541,000 and 1,657,000 respectively, being an
increase of 116,000. Total increase 749,000.[188] Deducting 70,000
which were brought in by illicit trade[189] we have a remainder of
679,000 or 21 per cent. natural increase. From natural increase
selling States should have had 207,000 more than the actual. Deducting
three-fifths on account of emigration leaves a little more than 8,000
per year sold South annually for these ten years.

It is very probable that the emigration to the cotton States fell
off during the fifties owing to the great prosperity in the border
States, and it might be fair to reduce the number estimated to have
been carried South by emigration to one-third or one-half, which would
leave ten or twelve thousand per year for the domestic slave trade.

We feel quite confident that this statistical review of the domestic
slave trade, based as it is upon the Census Reports, gives a truer idea
of the actual amount of the trade between the selling and the buying
States than could be got from any other sources.


[Footnote 98: Acts Gen. Assembly of S.C. from Feb., 1791, to Dec.,
1794, inclusive, Vol. I., 215.]

[Footnote 99: Hurd: Law of Freedom and Bondage, Vol. II., p. 74-75.]

[Footnote 100: Laws of the State of Delaware, 1793, p. 105.]

[Footnote 101: Mr. Miner, of Pennsylvania, in a speech in Congress,
January 6, 1829, read the following presentment made by the Grand Jury
at Alexandria in 1802. "We the Grand Jury for the body of the County
of Alexandria in the District of Columbia, present as a grievance the
practice of persons coming from distant parts of the United States
into this district for the purpose of purchasing slaves."--Gales and
Seaton's Register of Debates in Congress, Vol. V., p. 177. At this time
the foreign slave trade was prohibited by statutes in all the states.]

[Footnote 102: Claibourne: Mississippi as a Province, Territory, and
State, Vol. I., p. 144.]

[Footnote 103: It is to be remembered that this was just before the
opening of the foreign slave trade by South Carolina.]

[Footnote 104: Monette: History of the Valley of the Mississippi, Vol.
II., pp. 177-191, 269, 295, 547. Niles' Register, Sept. 13 and Oct. 18,

[Footnote 105: Census 1870. Population and Statistics, p. 4, 7

[Footnote 106: Annals of Congress, 16th Congress, 2nd Session, p. 77.]

[Footnote 107: Above Chap. I. Vincent Nolte, p. 189. Am. Col. So.
Reports, Vol. I., p. 94. Du Bois, p. 111.]

[Footnote 108: Clay's Col. Society Speech, Dec. 17, 1829.]

[Footnote 109: William Darby travelled all through the Southwestern
part of the country from about 1805 to 1815, and wrote two books: "A
Geographical Description of the State of Louisiana, Mississippi and the
Territory of Alabama", published in 1817, and the Emigrants' Guide,
1818. He visited both Natchez and New Orleans. F. Cumming Sketches of
a Tour to the Western Country, 1807 to 1809. John Bradbury: Travels
in the Interior of America in the years 1809-10-11, including a
description of Upper Louisiana, together with the Illinois and Western
Territories. Christian Scutz: Travels on an Inland Voyage Through the
States of New York, Pennsylvania, Virginia, Ohio, Kentucky, Tennessee,
and through the territories of Indiana, Louisiana, Mississippi, and New
Orleans in the years 1807, 1808. Vincent Nolte: Fifty Years in Both
Hemispheres. And others.]

[Footnote 110: Niles' Reg., Vol. XIII., p. 119, Oct. 18, 1817.]

[Footnote 111: (Paulding): Letters from the South, pp. 122, 128.]

[Footnote 112: Hunt's Merchants' Magazine, Vol. VI., p. 473.]

[Footnote 113: Birkbeck: Notes on a Journey from the Coast of Virginia
to the Territory of Illinois, p. 25. Palmer: Journal of Travels in the
United States, p. 142. Francis Hall, Travels in Canada and the United
States, p. 358.]

[Footnote 114: Fearon: Sketches of America, p. 268.]

[Footnote 115: Facts Respecting Slavery, p. 2 in (Yale) Slavery
Pamphlet, Vol. LXI.]

[Footnote 116: Acts of the General Assembly of Georgia, p. 139.
Note.--From 1810 to 1820 slaves increased in Georgia about 44,000, or
43 per cent. The illicit foreign traffic to this State was great during
part of this time. Torrey says in 1817, that it was common for masters
in Maryland, Delaware and District of Columbia to endeavor to reform
bad slaves by threatening to sell them to Georgia. Torrey: Portraiture
of Slavery in United States, p. 37.]

[Footnote 117: Census 1870, Vol. Pop. and Statistics, p. 7.]

[Footnote 118: Ibid., p. 4.]

[Footnote 119: Ibid., pp. 4, 6, 7.]

[Footnote 120: Monette: History of Mississippi Valley, Vol. II., p.

[Footnote 121: Census 1870. Pop. and Social Statistics, pp. 4, 6, 7.]

[Footnote 122: In 1810 there were in Louisiana 34,660 slaves and 7,585
free colored (census reports); according to Monette (Vol. II., p. 515)
in 1815 there were about 45,000 blacks. It is reasonable to suppose
that at least 8,500 of these must have been free negroes as there were
10,476 free negroes in Louisiana in 1820. (Census reports.)]

[Footnote 123: Monette: Vol. IV., pp. 281, 433, 444, 445. Evans: A
Pedestrious Tour, p. 173. Niles' Reg., Vol. XIII., pp. 40, 119. Sept.
13, Oct. 18, 1817.]

[Footnote 124: State Papers, 16th Congress, 1st Session, Vol. III.,
Doc. 42. Niles' Reg., May 2, 1818, Jan. 22, 1820; Sept. 6, 1817. Wm.
Jay: Miscellaneous Writings, p. 277, Chap. I. above.]

[Footnote 125: (Isaac Candler): A Summary View of America during a
Journey in 1822-23; p. 273.]

[Footnote 126: (Wm. Newnham Blane): An Excursion through the United
States and Canada, p. 226.]

[Footnote 127: Basil Hall: Travels in North America, Vol. II., p. 219.]

[Footnote 128: Ibid.: p. 220. Niles' Reg., Dec. 27, 1828.]

[Footnote 129: Du Bois, p. 128.]

[Footnote 130: Hunt's Merchants' Magazine, Vol. VI., p. 473.]

[Footnote 131: Woodbury's Report, p. 13.]

[Footnote 132: Ibid.]

[Footnote 133: Quoted from the African Repository, Vol. V., p. 381.]

[Footnote 134: Niles' Reg., Nov. 26, 1831.]

[Footnote 135: Richmond Enquirer, Aug. 30, 1831.]

[Footnote 136: Dew: Debates in Virginia Legislature, p. 59. In (Yale)
Slav. Pamp., Vol. XLVII.]

[Footnote 137: Acts Legislature Louisiana, 1831, p. 78.]

[Footnote 138: Acts of Extra Sess. of 10th Leg. of Louisiana, p. 4.]

[Footnote 139: Laws of Alabama, 1831-2, p. 12.]

[Footnote 140: Slavery Speeches in Virginia Legislature, Richmond
Enquirer, Jan. 19, 21, 24; March 30, 1832.]

[Footnote 141: Dew: Debate in Virginia Legislature, p. 50. (Yale) Slav.
Pamp., Vol. XLVII.]

[Footnote 142: Hunt's Merchants' Magazine, Vol. VI., p. 473.]

[Footnote 143: Census 1890, Statistics of Agriculture, p. 42.]

[Footnote 144: Dew: Debates in Virginia Legislature, p. 49. (Yale) Sl.
Pamp., Vol. XLVII. Dew made this statement in a paper in which his
argument required him to prove that the greatest possible number were
sent from Virginia.]

[Footnote 145: Liberator, May 18, 1833.]

[Footnote 146: Daily National Intelligencer, Feb. 10, 1836.]

[Footnote 147: Snow Hill (Md.) Messenger and Worcester Co. Advertiser,
May 14, 1832, Feb. 11, 1833, March 11, 1833. Winyaw Intelligencer
(S.C.), Dec. 11, 1803. Norfolk and Portsmouth Herald, Jan. 16, 1826.
Cambridge Chronicle (Md.), Feb. 12, 1831. Charleston (S. C.), Mercury,
Feb. 18, 1833.]

[Footnote 148: Village Herald (Princess Anne, Md.), Jan. 7, 1831.]

[Footnote 149: The Virginia Herald (Fredericksburg, Va.), Jan. 2, 1836.]

[Footnote 150: Slavery and the Internal Slave Trade, p. 17.]

[Footnote 151: Ibid., p. 13.]

[Footnote 152: Quarterly Anti-Slavery Magazine, Vol. II., p. 411.]

[Footnote 153: Sl. and Internal Sl. Trade, p. 14. Christian Freeman,
July 24, 1845.]

[Footnote 154: The Mississippian, April 21, 1837.]

[Footnote 155: Hammond: The Cotton Industry, Appendix I. De Bow's
Review, Vol. XXIII., p. 475.]

[Footnote 156: De Bow's Review, Vol. XXIII., p. 477.]

[Footnote 157: Emancipator, Oct. 26, and Nov. 26, 1843.]

[Footnote 158: De Bow: Industrial Resources, Vol. III., p. 349.]

[Footnote 159: Ibid.: p. 275. Emancipator, Oct. 26, 1843.]

[Footnote 160: Liberator, May 19, 1837, May 24, 31, 1839, April 30,

[Footnote 161: Hammond: Cotton Industry, Appendix I.]

[Footnote 162: Quoted from the National Era, Sept. 27, 1849.]

[Footnote 163: De Bow's Review. Vol. XXVI., p. 649.]

[Footnote 164: Key to Uncle Tom's Cabin, p. 149.]

[Footnote 165: De Bow's Review, Vol. XXII., pp. 216-218.]

[Footnote 166: P.A. Morse, of Louisiana, De Bow's Review, Vol. XXIII.,
p. 480. Note.--The statement was made by a South Carolina delegate to
the Southern Convention at Montgomery in 1858, that Virginia was then
the best market in the Union for the slaves of his State. De Bow's
Review, Vol. XXIV., p. 595.]

[Footnote 167: Olmsted: Seaboard Slave States, p. 127.]

[Footnote 168: Liberator, Jan. 12, 1855.]

[Footnote 169: De Bow's Review, Vol. XXVI., p. 650.]

[Footnote 170: Ibid.: Vol. XXII., p. 222.]

[Footnote 171: De Bow's Review, Vol. XVIII., p. 628; Vol. XXII., pp.
216, 217, 218; Vol. XXIV., pp. 581, 585, 574, 588.]

[Footnote 172: Ibid.: Vol. XXVII., p. 470.]

[Footnote 173: New Orleans Picaynne, Jan. 8, 15, 1846; Feb. 3, Dec. 10,
1856; Jan. 7, 14, 1858; Dec. 31, 1859.]

[Footnote 174: Sumner's Works, Vol. V., p. 62; Olmsted, Cotton Kingdom,
Vol. I., (note) p. 58. Chambers: Slavery and Color, p. 148. Chase and
Sanborn: The North and the South, p. 22.

Note.--The estimate of 60,000 given in Hunt's Merchants' Magazine is
scarcely worth consideration. Hunt's Magazine, Vol. XLIII., p. 642.]

[Footnote 175: See Chap. I., this volume.]

[Footnote 176: Census 1820 and 1830.]

[Footnote 177: De Bow's Review, Vol. XXIII., p. 476.]

[Footnote 178: Slavery and the Internal Slave Trade, p. 13.]

[Footnote 179: Andrews: Sl. and Domestic Sl. Trade, pp. 174, 171, 117,
167. Smedes: Memorials of a Southern Planter, pp. 48-50. Cary: Slave
Trade, Domestic and Foreign, p. 109. (Ingraham): The Southwest, Vol.
II., p. 233.

We have not taken into account the slaves brought by planters
themselves independently of the traders. See Dew's "Debates,"
Pro-Slavery Argument, p. 361.]

[Footnote 180: Other things which perhaps ought to be considered, but
which do not seem to modify results are mentioned in this note; i.e.,
the mortality on the sugar plantations (Stearns' Notes on Uncle Tom's
Cabin, pp. 174-5), and the deaths caused by removal of slaves from a
northern climate (Olmsted: Journey in the Back Country, 122; Chambers:
Slavery and Color, 147-8). Negroes advertised for sale in the far South
were often advertised as acclimated (Mississippi Republican, Sept. 17,
1823; Daily Picayune, Jan. 30, 1856). To offset the loss of life thus
caused it is well to remember that the increase of slaves carried to
the South was not taken into account, but treated as if they too were
carried there. For instance, 1,000 slaves imported in 1830 would at
a 20 per cent. rate of increase number 1,200 by 1840, or to take the
middle date 1835, 1,100. So each 1,000 slaves brought in during the
decade would increase by 100. If 40,000 were introduced by the illicit
foreign traffic between 1830 and 1840, and 106,000 by the trade from
the border States, it would mean a natural increase of 14,600 for the
ten years. This it seems would offset both the deaths on the sugar
plantation, and those caused by removal to another climate.

Next to be considered are refugees and manumitted slaves; Miss
Martineau said that there were about 10,000 negroes in Upper Canada
about 1838, chiefly fugitive slaves (W. Travel., Vol. II., p. 101).
The Census of 1860 reports that (Vol. Pop. XVI.) 1,011 slaves escaped
in 1850, and only 803 in 1860, and that the slave population increased
in slave states more than 20 per cent. during the 10 years, and free
colored population in the free States only about 13 per cent. It
is estimated in De Bow's Industrial Resources (Vol. III., p. 129)
that about 1,540 annually escaped. (For other estimates see Seibert
Underground R.R., pp. 192, 221 et seq.)

The Census of 1860 reports that more than 3,000 were manumitted in
census year of 1860, but this was more than twice as many as in 1850.
(1860 Vol. Pop., p. XV.). To offset the fugitive slaves and those
manumitted the following is given: kidnapped free negroes from a few
hundred to two or three thousand yearly free negroes sold into slavery
for jail fees, etc. Liberator, Nov. 19, 1841, July 17, 1834; Speech of
Mr. Miner in Congress Jan. 7, 1829; (Sturge: A Visit to the U.S., p.
101) voluntary return to slavery--many States made laws before 1860 to
provide for such action on the part of the slaves. (Hurd, Vol. II., p.
12, 24, 94, et seq.).

The things as mentioned above do not modify the amount of the domestic
slave trade as indicated by the statistical review in the text. If one
should argue that the allowances we have made are not sufficient, we
would ask him to take notice also that it is more than probable that
most of the manumissions and escapes from slavery were in the border
States, and to that extent lessens the amount of the apparent slave
trade. It is impossible to be definite here, we can only approximate.]

[Footnote 181: This about accords with Alexander, who said that by
means of the internal trade about 4,000 or 5,000 arrived in the
Southern States annually. Transatlantic Sketches, p. 230.]

[Footnote 182: Between 1830 and 1840 the number of increase in South
Carolina was only about 12,000, while during the previous decade it was
about 57,000, if for no other reason showing her to be an exporting

[Footnote 183: Shaffner: The War in America, p. 256. (Ingraham): The
Southwest, Vol. II., p. 237. It was rather hard to determine whether
Missouri should be classed with selling or buying States. It is likely
she did some of both as did some others. But practically all her
increase after 1830 at least (aside from natural increase) seemed to
be due to immigration from Kentucky and Virginia, though her increase
was very large, we think she would rank as a selling State anyhow after

[Footnote 184: Census 1830 and 1840.]

[Footnote 185: Chap. I., this volume.]

[Footnote 186: Census 1840 and 1850.]

[Footnote 187: Chap. I., this volume.]

[Footnote 188: Census 1850 and 1860.]

[Footnote 189: Chap. I., this volume.]



As we now have a somewhat definite idea as to the amount of the
domestic slave trade the next questions which naturally claim our
attention are: Were some States consciously and purposely engaged in
breeding and raising negroes for the Southern market, and also, what
were the sources of supply for the trade? The former of these queries
is, no doubt, the most controverted and difficult part of our subject.

The testimony of travellers and common opinion generally seems to have
been in the affirmative. A quotation or two will suffice to show the
trend: The Duke of Saxe Weimar says, "Many owners of slaves in the
States of Maryland and Virginia have ... nurseries for slaves whence
the planters of Louisiana, Mississippi and other Southern States draw
their supplies."[190]

In a "Narrative of a Visit to the American Churches," the writer, in
speaking of the accumulation of negroes in the Gulf States, says:
"Slaves are generally bred in some States as cattle for the Southern
market."[191] And the Rev. Philo Tower, writing about twenty years
later draws a more vivid picture. "Not only in Virginia," he says, "but
also in Maryland, North Carolina, Kentucky, Tennessee and Missouri, as
much attention is paid to the breeding and growth of negroes as to that
of horses and mules.... It is a common thing for planters to command
their girls and women (married or not) to have children; and I am told
a great many negro girls are sold off, simply and mainly because they
did not have children."[192]

Undoubtedly some planters in all the slave States resorted to
questionable means of increasing their slave stock, but that it was a
general custom to multiply negroes in order to have them to sell is
very improbable.

Many of these travellers show prejudice. We have wondered, therefore,
whether it were too much to assume that they had more thought for the
effect their narrative would produce in the North or in England than
for its truth. Is it not probable that foreigners may have got their
information about breeding slaves when in the free States rather than
actual evidence of such an industry where the industry was supposed
to be carried on? It seems, at any rate, more than probable that
the exceptional cases which they found were made to appear as the
general rule. Then, too, the very fact that some States sold great
numbers of slaves was sufficient evidence to some, no doubt, that they
were engaged in the business of raising them for sale. It seems very
natural that this should be inferred. Consequently travellers reported
that certain sections were engaged in breeding and raising slaves for
market. They made the accusation that the so-called "breeding States"
were in the slave-breeding business for profit. But was it profitable?
If not, why were they in this business?

A negro above eighteen years of age would bring on an average about
$300 in the selling States from 1815 to, say, 1845. Sometimes he would
bring a little more, sometimes less.[193] Between the age of ten and
the time of sale we will suppose the slave paid for his keeping. But
before that time he would be too small to work. There was always some
defective stock which could not be sold;[194] this, taken in connection
with the fact that all negroes did not live to be ten years of age,
probably not more than half,[195] we shall be under the necessity of
deducting about one-half of the $300 on this account. This will leave
$150 or $15 per year for the possible expense of raising him. A bushel
of corn a month would have been about $8 per year for corn; fifty
pounds for meat $4. It is not likely he could have been clothed for
less than $3, and the $15 is gone, with nothing left for incidentals.
We think the above a very fair estimate.[196] In 1829 the average
price of negroes in Virginia was estimated at only $150 each.[197]

Why did not the border slave States raise hogs instead of negroes?
Bacon was at a good price during that period.[198]

The fact is the negroes probably increased without any consideration
for their master's wishes in the matter. A planter could stop raising
hogs whenever he might choose, but it seemed to be hardly within the
province of the master to limit the increase of his negroes. And the
better they were treated evidently the faster the increase. A man who
had one or two hundred negroes, and had scruples about selling them,
unless he should be able to add to his landed estate as they increased
was in a bad predicament. It seems some such men had the welfare of
their negroes at heart and used every means to keep them. Andrews tells
of one:

"A gentleman," he says, "in one of the poorer counties of Virginia has
nearly 200 slaves whom he employs upon a second rate plantation of
8,000 or 10,000 acres, and who constantly brought him into debt, at
length he found it necessary to purchase a smaller plantation of good
land in another county which he continues to cultivate for no other
purpose than to support his negroes."[199]

Sometimes men who were in prosperous circumstances would buy land as
fast as their slaves increased and settle them upon it.[200]

Slaves were seldom sold until they were over ten years of age,[201]
consequently if it were true that the border States made a business
of breeding and raising them for sale we should naturally expect to
find in these States a much greater proportion under ten than in the
buying States. To determine the truth of this we shall have recourse
to the Census Reports. The States of Virginia, Maryland, Kentucky and
North Carolina, in 1830, had, in round numbers 984,000 slaves, of which
349,000 were under ten years of age, and 635,000 over. This shows that
in these States there were 182 over ten years of age to every 100
under ten. Taking an equal number of the principal cotton-growing and
slave-buying States, say, Georgia, Mississippi, Alabama and Tennessee,
we find that they had 346,000 over ten and 196,000 under ten,[202]
consequently for every 176 of the former they had 100 of the latter.
Therefore, at this time, the principal so-called "slave-breeding"
States had a smaller number of slaves under ten years than an equal
number of buying States. The numbers, it will be seen, differ as the
ratios 100-182 and 100-176.

In 1840 there were in the Southern States about 2,486,000 slaves,
of whom about 844,000 were under ten years of age, on an average,
therefore, of 100 under ten to every 194 over. Taking each State
separately we find that Virginia had just an average, having 100 of the
former to 194 of the latter; Maryland, 100 to every 203; Delaware, 100
to 218; District of Columbia, 100 to 280; Kentucky, 100 to 179; North
Carolina, 100 to 176; Missouri, 100 to 172; South Carolina, 100 to 205;
Louisiana, 100 to 267; Mississippi, 100 to 206; Florida, 100 to 220;
Georgia, 100 to 188; Arkansas, 100 to 195; Tennessee, 100 to 170 and
Alabama, 100 to 190.[203] Thus it is shown that the buying States of
Alabama, Georgia and Tennessee each had more children in proportion to
their slave population than Virginia; and that Maryland and Delaware
had about the same proportion as the buying States of Mississippi,
Florida and Arkansas. It would hardly be fair, however, to compare the
District of Columbia with Louisiana.

In 1860 we find that the proportion of slave children under ten years
of age is much less in all the States than in 1840.[204] In Virginia,
at this time, there were 100 under ten years to 227 over that age;
Delaware 100 to 233; Maryland, 100 to 229; Kentucky, 100 to 204; South
Carolina, 100 to 224; North Carolina, 100 to 202; Missouri, 100 to
190; Georgia, 100 to 221; Louisiana, 100 to 285; Mississippi, 100 to
242; Texas, 100 to 209; Arkansas, 100 to 219; Tennessee, 100 to 200;
Alabama, 100 to 221 and Florida 100 to 224.[205] This schedule shows
that the buying States which had a greater number of slave children in
proportion to their slave population in 1860, than Virginia, Maryland
and Delaware, were Georgia, Arkansas, Tennessee, Alabama, Texas, and

It is noticeable in both schedules that the State of Louisiana is an
exception. The proportion of children there was much less than in the
other States. This is probably due to the strenuous work on sugar
plantations. It is also noticeable that the Western States had the
greatest proportional number of children, which is to be accounted
for by the healthfulness of the climate and by its being a rich and
prosperous farming section, where negroes were well fed and probably
free from the malarial ailments of some other sections. The conditions,
therefore, were very favorable to the prolific negro race.

We think it would be only natural that one should expect to have found
in Virginia and Maryland, which have had to bear the brunt of the
accusation of breeding slaves, the greatest proportion of children; not
only because of the reiterated accusations, but also on account of the
exportation of adult slaves from these States, which had the tendency
to heighten the proportion of children in these States and lessen it in
the States to which slaves were carried.

With regard to slave breeding, Shaffner, a native of Virginia, says:
"From our own personal observation, since we were capable of studying
the progress of human affairs, we are of opinion that there is less
increase of the slaves of the so-called 'breeding States,' than of the
more Southern of Gulf States.[206] "We doubt if there exists in America
a slave owner that encourages the breeding of slaves for the purpose of
selling them. Nor do we believe that any man would be permitted to live
in any of the Southern States that did intentionally breed slaves with
the object of selling them.[207]

Southerners generally have denied the accusation. When Andrew
Stevenson, of Virginia, was minister to England, he was, upon one
occasion, taunted by Daniel O'Connell with belonging to a State that
was noted for breeding slaves for the South. He indignantly denied the
charge.[208] And in 1839 the editor of the "Cincinnati Gazette" was
much abused for asserting that Virginia bred slaves as a matter of
pecuniary gain.[209]

Nehemiah Adams, a clergyman, went South in the early fifties biased
against slavery, but says, "the charge of vilely multiplying negroes in
Virginia is one of those exaggerations of which the subject is full,
and is reduced to this: that Virginia being an old State fully stocked,
the surplus black population naturally flows off where their numbers
are less."[210]

It would seem that these States are not only practically freed from the
charge of multiplying slaves and raising them for market as a business,
but that, as a rule, they did not sell their slaves unless compelled
to do so by pecuniary or other embarrassments.

Probably many planters were as conscientious about their slaves as
Jefferson appears to have been. In a letter he says:

"I cannot decide to sell my lands. I have sold too much of them
already, and they are the only sure provision for my children, nor
would I willingly sell the slaves as long as their remains any prospect
of paying my debts with their labor."[211]

It seems that he was finally compelled to sell some of them.[212]
Madison parted with some of his best land to feed the increasing
numbers of negroes, but admitted to Harriet Martineau that the
week before she visited him he had been obliged to sell a dozen of
them.[213] And Estwick Evans, who made a long tour of the country in
1818, says, "I know it to be a case, that slave holders, generally,
deprecate the practice of buying and selling slaves."[214] No doubt,
the planters were always glad to get rid of unruly and good-for-nothing
negroes, and these were pretty sure to fall into the hands of
traders.[215] The slave traders had agents spread over the States,
where slaves were less profitable to their owners, in readiness to
take advantage of every opportunity to secure the slaves that might in
any way be for sale. They would, even when an opportunity occurred,
kidnap the free negroes. They also sought to buy up slaves as if for
local and domestic use and then would disappear with them.[216] And it
was a common occurrence for plantations and negroes to be advertised
for sale. In one issue of the "Charleston Courier" in the winter of
1835 were advertised several plantations and about 1,200 negroes for
sale.[217] At such sales negro traders and speculators from far and
near were sure to be on hand attracted by the prospect of making good

Probably we could not better close this chapter than with a quotation
from Dr. Baily, who was editor of the "National Era," a moderate
antislavery paper. It appears to us that he correctly and concisely
sums up the whole matter:

"The sale of slaves to the South," he says, "is carried on to a great
extent. The slave holders do not, so far as I can learn, raise them
for that special purpose. But here is a man with a score of slaves,
located on an exhausted plantation. It must furnish support for all;
but while they increase, its capacity of supply decreases. The result
is he must emancipate or sell. But he has fallen into debt, and he
sells to relieve himself of debt and also from the excess of mouths.
Or he requires money to educate his children; or his negroes are sold
under execution. From these and other causes, large numbers of slaves
are continually disappearing from the State....

"The Davises in Petersburg are the great slave dealers. They are Jews,
who came to that place many years ago as poor peddlers.... These men
are always in the market, giving the highest price for slaves. During
the summer and fall they buy them up at low prices, trim, shave, wash
them, fatten them so that they may look sleek and sell them to great

"There are many planters who cannot be persuaded to sell their slaves.
They have far more than they can find work for, and could at any time
obtain a high price for them. The temptation is strong for they want
more money and fewer dependents. But they resist it, and nothing can
induce them to part with a single slave, though they know that they
would be greatly the gainers in a pecuniary sense, were they to sell
one-half of them."[219]


[Footnote 190: Bernard, Duke of Saxe Weimar, Travels Through North
America, 1825-26, Vol. II., p. 63.]

[Footnote 191: Reed and Matheson: Visit to the Am. Churches, Vol. II.,
p. 173.]

[Footnote 192: Tower: Slavery Unmasked, p. 53. Note.--"The following
story was told me by one conversant with the facts as they occurred on
Mr. J.'s plantation, containing about 100 slaves. One day the owner
ordered all the women into the barn; he followed them whip in hand,
and told them he meant to flog them all to death; they, as a matter
of course, began to cry out, 'What have I done, Massa?' 'What have I
done, Massa?' He replied: 'Damn you, I will let you know what you have
done; you don't breed. I have not had a young one from you for several
months.' They promptly told him they could not breed while they had to
work in the rice ditches."

Slavery Unmasked was published in 1856. Exactly the same story as
above, almost verbatim, is found in "Interesting Memoirs and Documents
Relating to American Slavery." published in 1846. The fact that this
story is told in different books published ten years apart indicates
that such instances were very rare. It seemed strange that each
writer should claim to have received the story from a friend, or "one
conversant with the facts," for one seems to have copied directly from
the other. It was no doubt mere hearsay with both writers.

Others on slave breeding are: Buckingham: Slave States of America, Vol.
I., p. 182; Miss Martineau: Society in America, Vol. II., p. 41. Jay;
Miscellaneous Writings, p. 457. Abdy: Journal of a Residence in the
United States, Vol. II., p. 90. Rankin: Letters on American Slavery, p.
35. Candler: A Summary View of America, p. 277. Kemble: Journal of a
Residence on a Georgian Plantation, pp. 60, 122.]

[Footnote 193: Proceedings and Debates of the Virginia State
Constitutional Convention, 1829-30, p. 178. Dew: Debates in Virginia
Legislature, 1831-2. Pro-Slavery Argument, p. 358. Andrews: Domestic
Slave Trade, p. 77.]

[Footnote 194: Chambers: Am. Slavery and C. Laws, p. 148.]

[Footnote 195: Kemble: Journal of a Residence on a Georgia Plantation,
pp. 190, 191, 199, 204, 214, 215. We get from these that out of about
74 born 42 died very young.]

[Footnote 196: Stuart: Three Years in North America, Vol. II., p. 103.
He says it cost $35 per year to feed and clothe an adult negro a year.
Must cost half that much for a young one.]

[Footnote 197: Proceedings and Debates of Virginia State Con.
Convention, 1829-30, p. 178.]

[Footnote 198: Hunt's Merchants' Magazine, Vol. VI., p. 473.]

[Footnote 199: Andrews: Slavery and the Domestic Slave Trade, p. 119.]

[Footnote 200: Chambers: Am. Slavery and Color, p. 194.]

[Footnote 201: Ibid., p. 148.]

[Footnote 202: Census of 1830.]

[Footnote 203: Census of 1840.]

[Footnote 204: We do not know why unless it is because slaves being
higher more care was taken of them, which as a consequence caused them
to live longer.]

[Footnote 205: For data upon which these arguments are based see Census
Reports of 1830, 1840, and 1860.]

[Footnote 206: Shaffner: The War in America, p. 256.]

[Footnote 207: Ibid., p. 296.]

[Footnote 208: Annual Report of Am. and Foreign Anti-Slavery Society,
1850, p. 108.]

[Footnote 209: Ibid.]

[Footnote 210: Nehemiah Adams: Southern View of Slavery, p. 78.]

[Footnote 211: Ford: Jefferson's Works. Vol. VI., pp. 416-417.]

[Footnote 212: Ford: Jeff. Works. Vol. VI., p. 214.]

[Footnote 213: Martineau: Retrospect of Western Travel, Vol. II., p. 5.]

[Footnote 214: Evans: A Pedestrious Tour, p. 216.]

[Footnote 215: Olmsted: Seaboard Slave States, p. 392.]

[Footnote 216: Reed and Matheson: Narrative of a Visit to the American
Churches, Vol. II., p. 173.]

[Footnote 217: Charleston Courier (S.C.), Feb. 12, 1835.]

[Footnote 218: Sequel to Mrs. Kemble's Journal, p. 1. (Yale) Slavery
Pamphlet, Vol. XVII. De Bow's Review, Vol. XXIV., p. 595. Liberator,
Sept. 7, 1860; also May 6, 1853.]

[Footnote 219: National Era, June 10, 1847.]



Virginia, as early as 1753, enacted a law against importation of free
negroes for sale and stealing of slaves.[220] In 1788 another law
was passed against kidnapping. It recited that several evil-disposed
persons had seduced or stolen children or mulatto and black free
persons; and that there was no law adequate for such offenses. This
law made the penalty for such a crime very severe. Upon conviction the
offender was to suffer death without benefit of clergy.[221] North
Carolina had already (1779) enacted a law, with the same penalty,
against stealing slaves and kidnapping free negroes.[222]

The other Southern States which had laws against kidnapping are:
Alabama,[223] Maryland,[224] Mississippi,[225] Missouri,[226]
Florida,[227] South Carolina,[228] Arkansas,[229] Tennessee,[230]
Louisiana,[231] Georgia.[232] Delaware, however, had the most
interesting as well as very severe laws against kidnapping. That of
1793 required that any one guilty of kidnapping or of assisting to
kidnap free negroes or mulattoes should be whipped with thirty-nine
lashes on the bare back, and stand in the pillory with both of his
ears nailed to it, and when he came out to have their soft parts cut
off.[233] In 1826 the penalties were made even more severe: $1,000
fine, pillory one hour, to be whipped with sixty lashes upon the bare
back, to be imprisoned from three to seven years, at the expiration of
which he was to be disposed of as a servant for seven years, and upon
second conviction to suffer death.[234] In 1831 Congress passed a law
to prevent the abduction and sale of free negroes from the District of

It is quite evident from these laws that kidnapping was a very common
crime. It does not appear, however, that they prevented it.

Even as early as 1817 it was estimated by Torrey, who seems to have
made a study of the subject, that several thousand legally free persons
were toiling in servitude, having been kidnapped.[236]

Free negro children were the ones who were most liable to be
kidnapped,[237] for the reason probably that they were easier managed
and less likely to have about them proofs of their freedom, though
sometimes, indeed, even white children, whether being mistaken for
negroes or not, were stolen and sold into slavery.[238]

More than twenty free colored children were kidnapped in Philadelphia
in 1825.[239] It is stated that some persons gained a livelihood by
stealing negroes from the towns of the North and carrying them to the
South for sale.[240] Statements similar to the following are often to
be met with in the papers published in slavery times:

"Four negro children, 18, 17, 9 and 5 years respectively--first two
girls; last two boys--were kidnapped and carried off from Gallatin
County, Illinois, on the evening of 5 ult. The father ... was tied
while the children were taken away. The kidnapping gang is regularly
organized and is increasing. The members are well known but cannot
be punished on account of the disqualification of negroes as

"About midnight on the 27th of September a party of 8 or 10 Kentuckians
broke into the house of a Mr. Powell, in Cass County, Michigan, while
he was absent. They drew their pistols and bowie knives and dragged his
wife and three children from their beds, and bound them with cords and
hurried them off to their covered wagons and started post haste for

Probably kidnapping was carried on even more extensively in the slave
States themselves. "The Liberator," quoting from the "Denton (Md.)
Journal" in 1849 says:

"Three free negro youths, a girl and two boys, were kidnapped and taken
from the County with intent to sell them to the South.... They had been
hired for a few days by Mr. James T. Wooters, near Denton, for the
ostensible purpose of cutting cornstalks. After being a day or two in
Mr. Wooters' employ they suddenly disappeared.... Enquiry being set on
foot, it was, after some days, discovered that they had been secretly
carried through Hunting Creek towards Worcester County, thence to
Virginia. We learn that the Negroes are now in Norfolk."[243]

They were carried to Richmond where they were sold as slaves, but were
finally recovered.[244]

Notwithstanding the harshness of the Delaware laws against kidnapping
and the convictions[245] under them, the business of kidnapping seems
to have flourished there. A quotation or two will illustrate:

"Two young colored men, free born, were stolen from Wilmington a few
nights ago and taken, it is supposed, to some of the Southern slave
markets.... Fifty or sixty persons it is said, have been stolen from
the lower part of the State in the last six months."[246]

In 1840 the "Baltimore Sun" said: "A most villainous system of
kidnapping has been extensively carried on in the State of Delaware by
a gang of scoundrels residing there, aided and abetted by a number of
confederates living on the Eastern Shore of this State."[247]

While discussing kidnapping in Delaware, it is very unlikely we should
forget to mention probably the most notorious kidnapping gang which the
domestic slave trade produced. The principal character of the gang,
and the one from which it seems to have drawn its inspiration, and the
one from which it took its name--was a woman--in looks more like a man
than a woman--Patty Cannon by name--well known by tradition to every
Delawarian and Eastern Shore of Marylander. A son-in-law of hers was
hanged for the murder of a negro trader. His widow then married one
Joe Johnson who became a noted character in the business of kidnapping
through the aid and instruction of his mother-in-law, Patty Cannon.
Johnson was convicted once and suffered the punishment of the lash
and pillory. The grand jury in May, 1829, found three indictments for
murder against Patty Cannon,[248] but she died in jail May 11, of the
same year.[249]

White kidnappers sometimes used free colored men as tools by means of
which to ensnare other free colored men, and shared with them the
profits of the trade.[250] Indeed, the free colored men seem not to
have been much averse in aiding in the enslavement of their "brethren."
They sometimes even formed kidnapping bands of their own and pursued
the business without the aid of white men. Such a gang as this once
operated near Snow Hill, Maryland. It is said to have kidnapped and
sent off several hundred free negroes.[251]

Kidnappers devised various schemes for the accomplishment of their
purposes, some of them no less humorous than infamous. A man in
Philadelphia was found to be engaged in the occupation of courting and
marrying mulatto women and then selling them as slaves.[252] Another
plan was for one or two confederates to find out the bodily marks of a
suitable free colored person after which the other confederate would go
before a magistrate and lay claim to the ill-fated negro, describing
his marks, call in his accomplice as witness and so get possession of
the negroes.[253]

Probably the most ingenious of all methods of kidnapping was that
brought to light in Charleston, South Carolina, as related by Francis

"The agents were a justice of the peace, a constable and a slave
dealer.... A victim having been selected, one of the firm applied to
the justice upon a shown charge of assault, or similar offense, for a
writ, which was immediately issued and served by the constable, and the
negro conveyed to prison.... The constable now appears, exaggerates the
dangers of his situation, explains how small is his chance of being
liberated even if innocent, by reason of the amount of jail fees and
other legal expenses; but he knows a worthy man who is interested in
his behalf, and will do what is necessary to procure his freedom upon
no harder condition than an agreement to serve him for a certain number
of years. It may be supposed the negro is persuaded.... The worthy
slave dealer now appears on the stage, the indenture of bondage is
ratified in the presence of the worthy magistrate and the constable,
who shares the price of blood, and the victim is hurried on shipboard
to be seen no more."[254]

From the nature of our information concerning kidnapping it is readily
seen that we have but little basis for a statistical estimate of the
number kidnapped. It must have ranged, however, from a few hundred to
two or three thousand annually. It appears quite certain that as many
were kidnapped as escaped from bondage, if not more.

The "Liberator" alone records nearly a hundred cases of detected
kidnapping between 1831 and 1860. But the number detected probably
bears but little relation to the number actually kidnapped. As was
before shown in the cases mentioned almost whole families were carried
off, and that in most cases, when a discovery was made, it was found
that the kidnapping gang had been in the business for years.


[Footnote 220: Hening: Statutes at Large, Vol. VI., p. 357.]

[Footnote 221: Ibid., Vol. XII., p. 531.]

[Footnote 222: Laws of State of North Carolina. Revised Under Authority
of the General Assembly, Vol. I., p. 375.]

[Footnote 223: Acts of General Assembly of Alabama, 1840-41, p. 125.]

[Footnote 224: Maxcy: Revised Laws of Maryland, Vol. II., p. 356
(1811). Dorsey: General Public Statuary Law, Vol. I., p. 112.]

[Footnote 225: Hutchinson: Code of Mississippi (1798 to 1848), p. 960.
Revised Code of Mississippi, Authority of Legislature (1857), p. 603.]

[Footnote 226: Laws of State of Missouri Revised by Legislature (1825),
Vol. I., p. 289.]

[Footnote 227: Laws of Florida, 1850-51, p. 132-3.]

[Footnote 228: Laws of South Carolina, 1837, p. 58.]

[Footnote 229: English: Digest of Statutes of Arkansas (1848) Authority
of Leg. Chap. LI., p. 333.]

[Footnote 230: Hurd: Law of Freedom and Bondage, Vol. II., p. 92.]

[Footnote 231: Laws of a Public and General Nature of the District of
Louisiana, of Territory of Louisiana and Territory of Missouri and
State of Missouri to 1824 (passed Oct. 1, 1804).]

[Footnote 232: Hurd: Vol. II., p. 106.]

[Footnote 233: Laws of State of Delaware, Oct. 14, 1793. Hurd, Vol. IV.
p. 76.]

[Footnote 234: Passed Feb. 8, 1826. Laws of Delaware, Vol. VI., p. 715.]

[Footnote 235: Statutes at Large, Vol. V., p. 450.]

[Footnote 236: Jessie Torrey: A Portraiture of Domestic Slavery, p. 57.]

[Footnote 237: An address to the People of North Carolina, p. 38. (Y.)
Sl. Pamp., Vol. LXI.

Liberator: May 18, 1849. Niles' Reg., Feb. 25, 1826.]

[Footnote 238: Emancipator, March 8, 1848.]

[Footnote 239: Mrs. Childs: Anti-Slavery Catechism, p. 14. (Yale)
Slavery Pamp., Vol. LXII.]

[Footnote 240: Buckingham: The Eastern and Western States of America,
Vol. I., p. 11. Niles' Reg., Oct. 18, 1828. Liberator, Oct. 1, 1852,
Aug. 14, 1857. Alexander, Transatlantic Sketches, p. 230.]

[Footnote 241: Liberator, May 18, 1849.]

[Footnote 242: Ibid., Nov. 23, 1849. _Other cases_: Liberator, July 31,
1846; Sept. 5, 1845; Oct. 1. 1852; Dec. 3, 1841; Aug. 14, 1857; Aug.
15, 1856; April 25, 1835; Jan. 10, 1835; May 7, 1835; Nov. 6, 1846;
Niles' Reg., Sept. 27, 1817; Jan. 31, 1818; May 23, 1818; July 4, 1818;
Dec. 12, 1818; Feb. 25, 1826; June 28, 1828. W. Faux, Memorable Days in
America, p. 277. Several of these as given took place in slave States.]

[Footnote 243: Liberator, April 27, 1849.]

[Footnote 244: Ibid., June 8, 1849.]

[Footnote 245: North Carolina Standard, June 21, 1837.

Niles' Register, April 25, 1829.]

[Footnote 246: The Christian Citizen, Dec. 21, 1844. Quoting from Penn.

[Footnote 247: Liberator, Feb. 21, 1840.]

[Footnote 248: Niles' Weekly Reg., April 25, 1829. Quoting from Del.
Gazette of April 17. American Annual Register, 1827-8-9, Vol. III., p.

[Footnote 249: Niles' Register, May 23, 1829.

Note on P. Cannon. George Alfred Townsend wrote a romance of about
700 pages, entitled "The Entailed Hat, or Patty Cannon's Times," in
which Patty Cannon is one of the principal characters. It is a very
interesting and instructive story. Townsend was a native of Delaware
and well qualified to write such a story. He says in the introduction:
"Often had she told him of old Patty Cannon and her kidnapping den
and her death in the jail of his native town. He found the legend of
that dreaded woman had strengthened instead of having faded with time,
and her haunts preserved, and eye witnesses of her deeds to be still
living. "Hence, this romance has much local truth in it and is not
only the narrative of an episode, but the story of a large region,
comprehending three State jurisdictions."

"'Patty Cannon's dead; they say she's took poison.'

"A mighty pain seized the Chancellor's heart, and the loud groans he
made called a stranger into the room.

"'Is that dreadful woman dead?' sighed the Chancellor.

"'Yes; she will never plague Delaware again. Marster.'

"'God be thanked!' the old man groaned."

"Entailed Hat," p. 541.]

[Footnote 250: Liberator: Sept. 14, 1849; Jan. 10, 1835.]

[Footnote 251: Niles' Register, April 10, 1824; Oct. 10, 1818.]

[Footnote 252: Jessie Torrey: A Portraiture of Domestic Slavery, p. 57.]

[Footnote 253: Ibid.]

[Footnote 254: Francis Hall: Travels in Canada and the United States,
p. 425.]



In all the large towns and cities were slave "prisons" or "pens"[255]
in which slaves were kept until enough for a drove or shipment
could be collected.[256] The slave prisons ranged all the way from
a rude whitewashed shed[257] to large and commodious establishments
accommodating hundreds of slaves. A description of one of these--The
Franklin and Armfield prison which was in Alexandria--by Andrews is
rather interesting:

"The establishment," he says, ... "is situated in a retired quarter
in the southern part of the city. It is easily distinguished as you
approach it, by the high, whitewashed wall surrounding the yards and
giving to it the appearance of a penitentiary. The dwelling house is of
brick, three stories high, and opening directly upon the street; over
the front door is the name of the firm....

"We passed out of the back door of the dwelling house and entered a
spacious yard nearly surrounded with neatly whitewashed two story
buildings, devoted to the use of the slaves. Turning to the left we
came to a strong grated door of iron opening into a spacious yard
surrounded by a high whitewashed wall, one side of this yard was
roofed, but the principal part was open to the air. Along the covered
side extended a table, at which the slaves had recently taken their
dinner, which, judging from what remained, had been wholesome and
abundant.... The gate was secured by strong padlocks and bolts."[258]

Such was the slave prison of one of the largest and most prosperous
slave-dealing firms.

There were many dealers who had no place of their own in which to keep
slaves, but were dependent upon the "prisons" of others.[259] Indeed,
at Washington, the city public prison was often used by negro traders
as a place of safety for their slaves. The keeper was paid by the
traders for the privilege.[260] This practice continued a great number
of years. In 1843 the poet Whittier thus describes the prison:

"It is a damp, dark and loathsome building. We passed between two
ranges of small stone cells filled with blacks. We noticed five or six
in a single cell which seemed scarcely large enough for a solitary
tenant. The heat was suffocating. In rainy weather the keeper told us
that the prison was uncomfortably wet. In winter there could be no
fire in these cells. The keeper with some reluctance admitted that he
received negroes from the traders and kept them until they were sold,
at thirty-four cents per day."[261]

While, no doubt, some traders kept their "prisons" in as good
condition[262] as circumstances would allow, there were others, and
probably the majority, who did not. A Northern minister describes those
at Richmond in 1845, as "mostly filthy and loathsome places."[263]

In the buying States two of the principal slave markets were Natchez
and New Orleans.[264] That of Natchez is thus described about 1835 by

"A mile from Natchez we come to a cluster of rough wooden buildings, in
the angle of two roads in front of which several saddle horses, either
tied or held by servants, indicated a place of popular resort.... We
entered through a wide gate into a narrow court yard. A line of negroes
extended in a semicircle around the right side of the yard. There were
in all about forty. Each was dressed in the usual uniform when in
market consisting of a fashionably shaped black fur hat, ... trousers
of coarse corduroy velvet, good vests, strong shoes, and white cotton
shirts."[265] ...

"There are four or five markets in the vicinity of Natchez. Several
hundred slaves of all ages are exposed to sale.... Two extensive
markets for slaves opposite each other, on the road to Washington three
miles from Natchez."[266]

A slave market in New Orleans was described in 1844 as a large and
splendidly decorated edifice, which had the appearance of having been
fitted up as a place of recreation. It had a number of apartments, a
handsome archway, and a large green lawn or outer court "beautifully
decorated with trees." In this lawn the sale of slaves was held.[267]

When a trader in the selling States had collected enough for a shipment
or "coffle" they were sent to the markets in the buying States.[268]
Slaves were sent South both by land and water.[269] In the winter
they were usually sent by water, but in summer they were often sent by

In the transportation of slaves the utmost precautions were necessary
to prevent revolt or escape.[271] When a "coffle" or "drove" was formed
to undertake its march of seven or eight weeks to the South[272] the
men would be chained,--"two by two, and a chain passing through the
double file and fastening from the right and left hands of those on
either side of the chain."[273]

This seems to have been the usual method of securing them. The
purpose was to have the men so completely bound as to render escape
or resistance impossible. The girls, children and women usually were
not chained and even sometimes rode in the wagons which accompanied
the train.[274] The "droves" were conducted by white men, usually, on
horseback and well armed with pistols[275] and whips.[276]

The negroes were usually well fed on their way South and when they
arrived at their destination, though their personal appearance was not
improved, they were generally stouter and in better condition than
when they began their march. Pains was now taken to have them polish
their skins and dress themselves in the uniform suits provided for
the purpose.[277] Then they were ready for market. At the sale the
auctioneer would descant at large upon the merits and capabilities of
the subject.[278] The slave, too, often would enter into a display of
his physical appearance with as much apparent earnestness to command
a high price as though he were to share the profits. He would seem to
enjoy a spirited bidding.[279] Each negro wished to be sold first as it
was thought by them to be an evidence of superiority.[280]

At the sales and auctions the purchaser was allowed the greatest
freedom in the examination of the slaves for sale. And he would
scrutinize them as carefully as though they were horses or cattle. The
teeth, eyes, feet and shoulders of both men and women were inspected,
sometimes without any show of decency.[281] Scars or marks of the lash
decreased their value in market, sometimes the sale would be lost for
that reason.[282]

In the slave trade there is no doubt that families were often
separated.[283] Though Andrews tells of a trader sending a lot of
mothers without their children in such a way as to lead one to believe
such a case was exceptional.[284] Negroes on large plantations were
sometimes advertised to be sold in families.[285]

Nehemiah Adams says that in settling estates in the South "good men
exercise as much care with regard to the disposition of slaves as
though they were providing for white orphan children.... Slaves are
allowed to find masters and mistresses who will buy them."[286]

Another traveller in speaking of the slave auction at Natchez, says:

"It is a rule seldom deviated from, to sell families and relations
together, if practicable. A negro trader in my presence refused to sell
a negro girl for whom a planter offered a high price because he would
not also purchase her sister."[287]

As a rule negroes had a great dislike to be sold South; in the early
history of the trade this amounted to horror for them.[288] Whether
this dislike arose from the impression that they might not be treated
so well or simply from the natural dislike of removing to a strange
land is a question, though the latter seems much more probable.[289] In
1835, however, it appears that the Virginia slaves were not so averse
to going South for the reason that many who had gone there sent back
such favorable accounts of their circumstances.[290]

Another phase of the domestic slave trade, which it may not be out of
way to mention, was the traffic in beautiful mulatto or quadroon girls.
It was a part of the slave trader's business to search out and obtain
them. At New Orleans, or elsewhere, they were sold at very high prices
for the purpose of prostitution or as mistresses.[291]

From a letter written in 1850 by a slave dealer of Alexandria,
Virginia, we quote the following:

"We ... cannot afford to sell the girl Emily for less than $1,800....
We have two or three offers for Emily from gentlemen from the South.
She is said to be the finest looking woman in this country."[292]

In New Orleans they often brought very high prices. The "Liberator"
quoting from the New York "Sun" in 1837 concerning the sale of a
girl at New Orleans, says: "The beautiful Martha was struck off at
$4,500."[293] And in the New Orleans "Picayune," of the same year, was
an account of a girl--"remarkable for her beauty and intelligence"--who
sold at $7,000 in New Orleans.[294] Many other instances might be given
but we think these sufficient.

A word now with reference to slave traders and the general estimation
in which they were held in the South.

Ingraham says: "Their admission into society ... is not recognized.
Planters associate with them freely enough, in the way of business, but
notice them no further. A slave trader is much like other men. He is
to-day a plain farmer with twenty or thirty slaves endeavoring to earn
a few dollars from the worn out land, in some old homestead. He is in
debt and hears he can sell his slaves in Mississippi for twice their
value in his own State. He takes his slaves and goes to Mississippi.
He finds it profitable and his inclinations prompt him to buy of his
neighbors when he returns home and makes another trip to Mississippi,
thus he gets started."[295]

Some traders were no doubt honorable men. Indeed, Andrews gives us a
very pleasing picture of Armfield, the noted Alexandria, Virginia,
slave dealer. He describes him as "a man of fine personal appearance,
and of engaging and graceful manners."[296] ... "Nothing, however, can
reconcile the moral sense of the Southern public to the character of a
trader in slaves. However honorable may be his dealings his employment
is accounted infamous."[297]

Upon the whole, no doubt the characterization of the slave traders by
Featherstonhaugh was a true one:

"Sordid, illiterate and vulgar ... men who have nothing whatever in
common with the gentlemen of the Southern States."[298]

Finch says: "A slave dealer is considered the lowest and most degraded
occupation, and none will engage in it unless they have no other means
of support."[299]

Indeed it seems they were accounted the abhorrence of every one. Their
descendants, when known, had a blot upon them and the property acquired
in the traffic as well.[300]


[Footnote 255: Featherstonhaugh: Excursion Through the Slave States,
Vol. I., p. 128.]

[Footnote 256: Liberator: Feb. 16, 1833. Buckingham: Slave States, Vol.
II., p. 485.]

[Footnote 257: Reed and Matheson: Visit to Am. Churches, Vol. I., p.

[Footnote 258: Andrews: Slavery and the Domestic Slave Trade, PP.

[Footnote 259: Sturge: A Visit to the United States, p. 107.]

[Footnote 260: Miner: Speech in Congress, Jan. 6, 1829.

Gales and Seaton's Register of Debates in Congress, Vol. V., p. 167.]

[Footnote 261: Whittier: A Letter in Emancipator, Nov. 23, 1843.]

[Footnote 262: Andrews: Slavery and the Domestic Trade, p. 164.]

[Footnote 263: Christian Freeman, Sept. 10, 1845.]

[Footnote 264: African Repository, Vol. V., p. 381, cited from
Mercantile Advertiser of New Orleans, Jan. 21, 1830.

Tower: Slavery Unmasked, p. 304.]

[Footnote 265: (Ingraham): The Southwest, Vol. II., p. 192.]

[Footnote 266: Ibid., p. 201.]

[Footnote 267: Christian Freeman, Jan. 2, 1845; quoted from Western
Citizen by C.F.]

[Footnote 268: Buckingham: Slave States of Am. II., p. 485.

Liberator, Feb. 16, 1833. Abdy: Journal of a Residence in the United
States, Vol. II., p. 100.]

[Footnote 269: Andrews: Sl. and the Domestic Sl. Trade, p. 142.]

[Footnote 270: Ibid.: p. 78.

Buckingham: Slave States, Vol. II., p. 485.

Liberator, Feb. 16, 1833.

Featherstonhaugh: Excursion Through the Slave States, Vol. I., p. 120.]

[Footnote 271: Niles' Reg., Sept. 5, 1829.

Featherstonhaugh: Excursion Through the Slave States, Vol. I., p. 122.

Niles' Reg., Oct. 14, 1826; Nov. 18, 1826; May 20, 1826.]

[Footnote 272: (Ingraham): The Southwest, Vol. II., p. 238.]

[Footnote 273: Adams: Southern View of Slavery, p. 77.]

[Footnote 274: The Christian Citizen, Oct. 26, 1844.

Featherstonhaugh: Excursion Through the Slave States, Vol. I., pp.

Palmer: Journal of Travels in the U.S., p. 142.

Birkbeck: Notes on a Journey from the Coast of Va., p. 25.]

[Footnote 275: (Paulding): Letters From the South, Vol. I., p. 128.
(Ed. 1817.)]

[Footnote 276: Buckingham: Slave States of America, Vol. II., p. 533.

(Blane): An Excursion Through the U.S. and Canada, p. 226.]

[Footnote 277: (Ingraham): The Southwest, Vol. II., p. 238.]

[Footnote 278: Ibid.: Vol. II., p. 30.]

[Footnote 279: Ashworth: A Tour in the U.S., Cuba and Canada, p. 81;
also Sequel to Mrs. Kemble's Journal, p. 8 in (Y.) Sl. Pamp., Vol. XVII.

(Ingraham): The Southwest, Vol. II., p. 201.]

[Footnote 280: (Ingraham): The Southwest, Vol. II., p. 201.]

[Footnote 281: Christian Freeman: April 10, 1845.

Christian Citizen, Nov. 23, 1844.]

[Footnote 282: Shaffner: The War in America, p. 293.]

[Footnote 283: Tower: Slavery Unmasked, p. 127-8.

Andrews: Sl. and Domestic Slave Trade, p. 105.]

[Footnote 284: Andrews: Slavery and Domestic Sl. Trade, p. 164.]

[Footnote 285: Liberator, May 6, 1853.

Sequel to Mrs. Kemble's Journal, p. 11, in (Yale) Sl. Pamp., Vol. XVII.]

[Footnote 286: Adams: Southern View of Slavery, p. 72.]

[Footnote 287: (Ingraham): The Southwest, Vol. II., p. 201.]

[Footnote 288: (Paulding): Letters from the South, Vol. I., p. 126;
(Ed. 1817).

Torrey: A Portraiture of Domestic Slavery in U.S., p. 145.]

[Footnote 289: Olmsted: Cotton Kingdom, Vol. I., p. 336.]

[Footnote 290: Andrews: Slavery and Domestic Sl. Trade, p. 118.]

[Footnote 291: Candler: A Summary View of Am., p. 276.

Liberator, June 18, 1847.

(Blane): Excursion Through the U.S., p. 209.

Tower: Slavery Unmasked, p. 304-7.]

[Footnote 292: Stowe: Key to Uncle Tom's Cabin, p. 169.]

[Footnote 293: Liberator, July 7, 1837.]

[Footnote 294: Quarterly Anti-Slavery Magazine, Vol. II., p. 409, July,

[Footnote 295: (Ingraham): The Southwest, Vol. II., p. 245.]

[Footnote 296: Andrews: Slavery and the Domestic Slave Trade, pp. 136,

Note:--It is interesting to compare Featherstonhaugh's characterization
of Armfield, which is: "I looked steadily at the fellow, and
recollecting him, found no longer any difficulty in accounting for
such a compound of everything vulgar and revolting and totally without
education. I had now a key to his manner and the expression of his
countenance."--Featherstonhaugh: Excursion Through the Slave States,
Vol. I., p. 167.]

[Footnote 297: Andrews: Sl. and Domestic Sl. Trade, p. 150.]

[Footnote 298: Featherstonhaugh: Excursion Through the Slave States,
Vol. I., p. 128.]

[Footnote 299: Finch: Travels in the U.S. and Canada, p. 241.]

[Footnote 300: Adams: Southern View of Slavery, p. 77.]




The General Assembly of Virginia, 1778, enacted that "no slaves
shall hereafter be imported into this commonwealth, by sea or land,
nor shall any slave or slaves so imported be sold or bought by any
person whatever," under penalty of one thousand pounds for every slave
imported and five hundred pounds for every one either sold or bought,
and the slave himself to be free. It was provided, however, that
persons removing to the State from other States with the intention of
becoming citizens of Virginia might bring their slaves with them, upon
taking the following oath within ten days after their removal:

"I. A.B. do swear that my removal to the State of Virginia was with no
intention to evade the act for preventing the further importation of
slaves within this commonwealth, nor have I brought with me, nor have
any of the slaves now in my possession been imported from Africa, or
any of the West India Islands since the first day of November 1778, so
help me God."[301]

This act did not apply to persons claiming slaves by descent, marriage
or divorce, or to any citizen of Virginia who was then the actual owner
of slaves within any of the United States, nor to transient travellers
having slaves as necessary attendants.[302]

In 1785 a law was passed declaring free the slaves who should afterward
be imported and kept in the State a year, whether at one time or at
several times. (a) The same exceptions were made as in the law of 1778.

In 1796 these acts were amended making it lawful for any citizen of
the United States residing in Virginia or owning lands there to carry
out any slaves born in the State and bring them back, provided they
had neither been hired nor sold. If, however, they were entitled to
freedom in the State to which they were removed, they could not again
be held as slaves in Virginia.[303]

In 1806 a law was passed totally prohibiting the introduction of
slaves into Virginia.[304] It was amended, however, in 1811, in favor
of residents of the State, as it restored to them the same privileges
concerning the importation of slaves which they had under the law of
1778.[305] An act of January 9, 1813, further amended and extended
to immigrants the right of bringing in slaves. They were allowed to
introduce only such slaves as they had owned for two years or acquired
by marriage or inheritance. Any one introducing slaves was put under
obligation not to sell them within two years. Those thus importing
slaves were required also to exhibit before a justice of the peace
a written statement with the name, age, sex and description of each
slave, and to take oath that the account was true and that they
were not introduced for the purpose of sale or with the intention
for evading the laws.[306] The last act of Virginia regarding the
importation of slaves was that of 1819. This law permitted the
importation of slaves not convicted of crime, from any of the United


In 1792 South Carolina passed a law to prohibit for two years the
importation of slaves from Africa, or from "other places beyond
the seas;" it also prohibited the introduction of slaves who were
bound for a term of years in any of the United States. An exception,
however, was made of citizens who might acquire slaves by marriage,
or actual settlers in the State and of travellers.[308] This act was
revised in 1794 and extended to 1797. As revised it totally prohibited
the introduction of slaves into South Carolina from all places from
without the United States.[309] In 1796 it was extended to 1799;[310]
again extended in 1798 to 1801 (a); and in 1800 it was again extended
to 1803. In 1800, also, an act was passed totally prohibiting the
introduction of slaves into the State except by immigrants,[311] and
in 1801 it was made even more stringent: Any slaves brought in were to
be sold by the sheriff of the district in which they were found upon
the order of the court.[312] It was found that the acts of 1800 and
1801 were too rigorous and inconvenient. In 1802 that part of the laws
which prevented citizens of other States from carrying their own slaves
through South Carolina was repealed. It was provided that any one who
wished to pass through the State with slaves might do so; but near the
place where he was to enter the State he should take the following oath
before a magistrate or quorum:

"I, A.B., do swear that the slaves which I am carrying through this
State are bona fide my property, and that I will not sell, hire or
dispose of said slaves, or either of them, to any resident or citizen,
or body corporate or public, or any other person or persons whomsoever,
within the State of South Carolina, but will travel directly to the
place where I intend to move."[313]

In 1803 an act repealing and amending former acts on the importation of
slaves was enacted. The introduction of negroes from the West Indies or
South America was prohibited; and from any of the other States unless
with a certificate of good character. There was no restriction with
respect to Africa.[314]

No more laws regarding importation were passed until 1816. Then it was
enacted that no slave should be brought into the State "from any of the
United States or territories or countries bordering thereon." The only
exception was in favor of travellers with not more than two slaves,
or settlers on their way to other States, who, before entering South
Carolina, were required to take an oath with regard to their slaves
similar to that required by the law of 1802.[315] This law was amended
in 1817 in part as follows:

"That every inhabitant of this State who was bona fide entitled in his
or her own right or in the right of his wife, to any slave or slaves on
the 19th day of December, 1816, or hereafter shall become entitled to
any such slave, by inheritance or marriage, shall be permitted to bring
them in" on certain conditions.[316] Both the law of 1816 and that of
1817 were repealed in 1818.[317]

In 1823 South Carolina made it lawful to bring into the State any slave
from the "West Indies, South America, or from Europe, or from any
sister State which may be situated to the North of the Potomac River
or the City of Washington." No slave was allowed to return to South
Carolina who had been carried out of the State and had visited any of
these places. The penalty was severe, it being $1,000 and forfeiture of
the slave.[318] This law was re-enacted in 1835,[319] and in 1847 it
was amended to allow slaves to return who should go to Cuba, on board
of any steamboat in the capacity of steward, cook, fireman, engineer,
pilot, or mariner, provided he had visited none of the other restricted
places.[320] It was amended again in 1848 and Baltimore and all ports
on the Chesapeake Bay in the State of Maryland were placed on the same
footing with regard to the importation of slaves as the States south of
the Potomac.[321]


In 1786 North Carolina passed her first law to restrict the importation
of slaves from other States. It was as follows:

"Every person who shall introduce into this State any slave from any
of the United States, which have passed laws for the liberation of
slaves, shall, on complaint thereof before any justice of the peace be
compelled by such justice to enter into bond with sufficient surety, in
the sum of $100 current money for each slave, for the removing of such
slave to the State from whence such slave was brought, within three
months thereafter, the penalty to be recovered, one-half for the use
of the State, the other half for the use of the prosecutor, or failure
of a compliance therewith; and the person introducing such slave shall
also, in case of such failure, forfeit and pay the sum of $200, to
be recovered by any person suing for the same and applied to their

A law of 1794 prohibited the introduction of slaves and indentured
servants of color. Exceptions were made of slave owners coming to
the States to reside and of citizens of North Carolina inheriting
slaves in other States.[323] In 1795 emigrants from the West Indies,
Bahama Islands, French, Dutch and Spanish settlements on the southern
coast of America, were prevented from bringing in slaves who were
more than fifteen years of age. An act of 1776, however, allowed
slaves to be brought in who belonged to residents near the Virginia
and South Carolina boundaries.[324] A law was passed in 1816 which
provided that slaves brought into North Carolina from foreign countries
contrary to the act of Congress of 1807, to be sold. No more laws
concerning importation were passed after the repeal of the laws against
importation about 1818.


Georgia passed a law against the importation of slaves in 1793.[325]
This seemed to apply only to slaves imported from without the United
States. In 1798 a new constitution was framed which provided "that
there shall be no importation of slaves into this State from Africa or
any foreign place after the first of October next."[326]

In 1817 the following was enacted:

"It shall not be lawful, except in cases herein authorized and allowed
for any person or persons whatever to bring, import or introduce into
this State, to aid, or assist, or knowingly to become concerned or
interested in bringing, importing or introducing into this State,
either by land or by water, or in any manner whatsoever, any slave
or slaves." Citizens of Georgia and those of other States coming to
Georgia to live were permitted to bring in slaves for their own use.
Before importing them they were required to make oath before the proper
authorities that they were not imported for sale, or hire, lend, or
mortgage. The act was not to extend to travellers.[327] This act was
repealed in 1824 and slaves then were imported and disposed of without
restriction.[328] The law of 1817 was revised in 1829; modified in
1836; again repealed in 1841; revived again in 1842.[329]

In 1835 a law was enacted making any one subject to fine and
imprisonment who should bring into Georgia any male slave who had been
to a non-slave-holding State or to any foreign country.[330]

In 1849 "all laws and parts of laws, civil and criminal, forbidding
or in any manner restricting the importation of slaves into this
State from any other slave-holding State" were repealed. Cities and
towns were given the right to regulate the sale of slaves by traders,
and to prescribe the places in their jurisdiction where slaves might
be kept and sold.[331] In 1852 so much of this law as had reference
to importation of slaves was repealed and the act of 1817 was
revived.[332] But the penitentiary imprisonment clause was eliminated.
The law of 1852 was repealed by the Legislature of 1855-6 and the act
of 1849 was revived thus again opening the State to the unrestricted
importation of slaves.[333]


In 1783 Maryland prohibited the importation of slaves. It was amended
in 1791 and also in 1794.[334] In 1796 the General Assembly of
Maryland enacted: "That it shall not be lawful, from and after the
passing of this act to import or bring into this State, by land or
water, any negro, mulatto, or other slave, for sale, or to reside
within this State; and any person brought into this State as a slave
contrary to this act, if a slave before, shall thereupon immediately
cease to be the property of the person or persons so importing or
bringing such slave within the State, and shall be free."

Immigrants to the State were allowed to bring in their own slaves,
at the time of removal or within one year afterward. It was required
that these slaves should have been within the United States three
years.[335] In 1797 this law was modified in favor of those coming into
Maryland to reside. In 1810 a law was passed to prevent those who were
slaves for a limited time from being sold out of the State.[336]

In 1817 a law was passed regulating the exportation of slaves as

"That whenever any person shall purchase any slave or slaves within
this State, for the purpose of exporting or removing the same beyond
the limits of this State, it shall be their duty to take from the
seller a bill of sale for said slave or slaves, in which the age and
distinguishing marks as nearly as may be, and the name of such slave or
slaves shall be inserted and the same shall be acknowledged before some
justice of the peace of the county where the sale shall be made and
lodged to be recorded in the office of the clerk of the said county,
within twenty days, and the clerk shall immediately on the receipt
thereof, actually record the same and deliver a copy thereof on demand
to the purchaser, with a certificate endorsed thereupon under the seal
of the county of the same being duly recorded."[337]

The following year (1818) a law was passed which provided that any
slave convicted of a crime, which, in the judgment of the court should
not be punished by hanging, might be transported for sale.[338] In 1846
the legislature enacted that slaves, sentenced to the penitentiary
should be publicly sold at the expiration of their service and

In 1831 a very restrictive law was enacted. It prohibited
the introduction of slaves into the State either for sale or
residence.[340] The restrictive policy did not continue long, for
in 1833 the barrier to the introduction of slaves for residence
was withdrawn. Persons removing to the State with the intention of
becoming citizens were required to pay a tax on every slave introduced
for the benefit of the State Colonization Society.[341] This act
was supplemented by another in 1839. Immigrants were required to
make affidavit that it was their intention to become citizens of the
State, and to pay a tax on their slaves imported from five to fifteen
dollars, according to age.[342] In 1847 a provision was made to allow
guardians, executors and trustees residing in the State to bring in
slaves appointed by a last will.[343]

In 1850 all laws against the importation of life slaves was repealed
except such as extended to those who were slaves for a term of years or
those convicted of crime in another State.[344] Maryland continued open
to the introduction of slaves.[345]


Delaware has the distinction of being the only one of the original
Southern States to embody a declaration unfavorable to the importation
of slaves in her first constitution. In that of 1776 she says:

"No person hereafter imported into this State from Africa ought to be
held in slavery under any pretense whatever; and no negro, Indian, or
mulatto ought to be brought into this State for sale from any part of
the world."[346]

In 1787 a law was passed regulating the exportation of slaves. A permit
was required to export negroes.[347] A law permitting the introduction
of slaves who were devised or inherited was enacted. The law against
exportation was made more severe.[348]

In 1793 another law was enacted to further regulate the exportation of
slaves. It only made a slight change. Any negro exported contrary to
the act was to have his freedom.[349] In 1828 courts were given the
right to sentence slaves for certain offenses to be exported. Those
thus exported were not allowed to return to the State.[350] There
were re-enactments in 1827 and in 1829 concerning the exportation
of slaves.[351] In 1833 a law was passed to enable farmers to carry
slaves into Maryland to cultivate land without incurring any
penalty.[352] There seems to have been no more enactments of Delaware
concerning importation or exportation of slaves.


The act of Congress in 1804 erecting Louisiana into a territory
prohibited the introduction of slaves into it from without the United
States. Only slaves imported before May 1, 1798, could be introduced,
and those had to be slaves of actual settlers.[353] An act of Louisiana
in 1810 was to prevent the introducing of slaves who had been guilty of

It was not until 1826 that Louisiana as a State passed any law against
the introduction of slaves as merchandise. But this year it was enacted
"That no person or persons shall after the first day of June 1826,
bring into this State any slave or slaves with the intention to sell or
hire the same." Citizens of Louisiana and immigrants could bring in
their own slaves, but were not allowed to hire, exchange or sell them
within two years after such importation.[355] This act was repealed
in 1828,[356] but in 1829 another law was passed which required that
any one who should introduce slaves above twelve years of age to have
a certificate for each slave, signed by two respectable and well
known freeholders of the county from which the slaves were brought,
accompanied with their declaration on oath that the slaves had never
been guilty of crime, and that they were of good character. Children
under ten years of age could not be brought in separate from their
mother.[357] This was repealed March 24, 1831.[358] Almost immediately
after the Southampton Massacre in Virginia, Louisiana called an extra
session of her legislature. The only important act of the session was
an act prohibiting importation of slaves for sale or hire. Immigrants
and citizens were prohibited from bringing in slaves from Alabama,
Mississippi, Florida and Arkansas. Those permitted to be brought in
could not be sold or hired within five years. A certificate as in
the law of 1829 was also required.[359] It was amended during the
same session and the States of Tennessee, Kentucky and Missouri were
included in the prohibition.[360] It was repealed in 1834[361] and no
other law with respect to the importation of slaves was ever enacted by


The Act of Congress in 1798, establishing a government in the
Mississippi Territory prohibited the importation of slaves from without
the United States,[362] and the constitution of 1817 excluded slaves
guilty of "high crimes in other States."[363]

The territorial act of 1808 made it unlawful "to expose for sale any
slave above fifteen years of age without having previously exhibited
to the chief justice of the Orphans' Court of the county where offered
for sale, a certificate signed by two respectable freeholders living in
the county from whence the slave was brought, describing the stature,
complexion, sex, name, and not to have been guilty of any murder,
crime, arson, burglary, felony, larceny to their knowledge or belief
where he came from, which certificate shall be signed and acknowledged
before the clerk of the county from whence he came, and certification
by said clerk that those whose names are prefixed are respectable
freeholders.... Such certificates aforesaid shall be registered with
the register of the orphans' court where such slaves are sold, the
seller taking oath that he believes said certificate is just and

In 1819 another act was passed to amend the law of 1808. Slaves brought
into the State as merchandise were made subject to a tax of twenty
dollars each. A certificate was required as in the law of 1808, but it
was not to apply to those brought in for their own use by citizens and
immigrants except those from Louisiana and the Alabama territory.[365]
An act of 1822 reduced into one the several acts concerning slaves,
free negroes and mulattoes, but no important changes were made with
regard to the importation of slaves.[366]

The new constitution of 1832, like that of 1817, excluded slaves
guilty of "high crime in other States." It declared, also, that "The
introduction of slaves into this State as merchandise, or for sale,
shall be prohibited from and after the first day of May eighteen
hundred and thirty-three."[367]

This provision of the constitution gave rise to a great deal of
litigation;[368] nor was it effective in prohibiting importation of
slaves. The latter appears from the fact that in 1837 by an act of
the legislature "the business of introducing or importing slaves into
this State as merchandise, or for sale be, and the same is hereby
prohibited." The penalty was $500 and six months' imprisonment for
each slave so brought in, and notes which might be given for slaves
were not collectable.[369] This law was repealed in 1846.[370]


The first law passed by Alabama concerning the importation of slaves
was for the purpose of carrying into effect the laws of the United
States prohibiting the slave trade. This was enacted in 1823 and
provided that slaves imported should be employed on public works or
sold for the State.[371]

But on January 13, 1827, it was enacted that "if any person or persons,
shall bring into this State any slave or slaves, for the purpose of
sale or hire, or shall sell or hire, any slave or slaves brought into
this State after the first day of August next, such person or persons
shall forfeit and pay the sum of $1,000 for each negro so brought in,
one-half thereof to the person suing for the same and the other half
to the use of the State. And, moreover, any person thus offending shall
be subject to indictment, and on conviction shall be liable to be fined
a sum not exceeding five hundred dollars for each offense and shall be
imprisoned not exceeding three months, at the discretion of the jury
trying such offense."

Citizens of the State, however, were allowed to purchase negroes for
their own use but could not sell them until two years after being
brought into the State.[372] This law was repealed in 1829.[373]

Another prohibitive law was passed January 16, 1832. But immigrants
were allowed to bring their own slaves with them and citizens of the
State could import slaves for their own use, when these introduced
slaves returns were to be made upon oath to the county courts
within thirty days, describing them, and declaring that they were
not introduced for the purpose of sale or hire. Citizens of Alabama
could import slaves which might have become theirs by inheritance or
marriage. The provisions of the law did not apply to travellers, nor
to citizens temporarily removed from the State.[374] This was repealed
December 4, 1832,[375] and no other prohibitive law was enacted.


The laws passed by Virginia concerning importation of slaves prior
to 1790 were in force in Kentucky until 1798.[376] This year an act
reducing into one several acts, concerning slaves, free negroes,
mulattoes and Indians was passed. No slaves could be imported into
Kentucky who were introduced into the United States from foreign
countries, except by immigrants who did not violate this provision.
Citizens could do the same. But no slaves might be imported as
merchandise.[377] An act amending this was approved February 8, 1815.
No one was allowed to bring slaves into Kentucky except those intending
to settle in the State, and they were required to take the following

"I, A.B., do swear (or affirm) that my removal to the State of
Kentucky, was with an intention to become a citizen thereof, and that
I have brought with me no slave or slaves, and will bring no slave or
slaves to this State with the intention of selling them."[378]

In 1833 it was enacted "That each and every person who shall hereafter
import into this State any slave or slaves, or who shall sell or buy,
or contract for the sale, or purchase, for a longer term than one
year, of the service of any such slave or slaves, knowing the same
to have been imported as aforesaid, he, she, or they, so offending,
shall forfeit $600 for each slave so imported, sold or bought or whose
service has been so contracted for."[379]

It was not to apply to immigrants provided they took the required oath;
nor to citizens of Kentucky who derived their "title by will, descent,
distribution, marriage, gift, or in consideration of marriage;" nor
to travellers who could prove to the satisfaction of a jury that the
slaves were for necessary attendance.[380]

There were minor acts and quite a number of acts of a private character.


Tennessee was originally a part of North Carolina and the laws of North
Carolina which were in force at the time of the cession of Tennessee to
the United States in 1790 were continued in force in Tennessee.[381]

The first law passed by Tennessee with reference to importation of
slaves was in 1812. It prohibited their importation as merchandise for
a term of five years. Persons coming as settlers or residents who had
acquired slaves by descent, devise, marriage, or purchase for their own
use were permitted to import them. Immigrants were obliged to take the
following oath:

"I, A.B., do solemnly swear or affirm that I have removed myself
and slaves to the State of Tennessee with the full and sole view of
becoming a citizen, and that I have not brought my slave or slaves
to this State with any view to the securing of the same against any
rebellion or apprehension of rebellion, so help me God."[382]

No other law concerning importation was enacted until 1826. It was
practically the same as that of 1812 except that it was a perpetual
act and no one was allowed to introduce slaves which had been guilty
of crimes in other States.[383] This act continued in force until 1855
when so much of it was repealed as related to the importation of slaves
as merchandise.[384]


The Constitution of Missouri (1820) circumscribed the powers of the
legislature with reference to importation of slaves as follows:

"The General Assembly shall have no power to pass laws to prevent bona
fide immigrants to this State or actual settlers therein from bringing
from any of the United States, or from any of their territories, such
persons as may there be deemed to be slaves, so long as any persons of
the same description are allowed to be held as slaves by the laws of
this State.

"They shall have power to pass laws:

"To prohibit the introduction into this State of any slaves who may
have committed any high crime in any other State or territory;

"To prohibit the introduction of any slave for the purpose of
speculation, or as an article of trade or merchandise;

"To prohibit the introduction of any slave or the offspring of any
slave, who heretofore may have been, or who hereafter may be imported
from any foreign country into the United States or any territory
thereof in contravention of any existing statue of the United

The first constitutions of most of the other Southern States had
provisions somewhat similar to these among which are Arkansas,[386]
Florida,[387] and Texas.[388]

The only laws passed by Missouri regarding importation were those of
1835, 1843 and 1845. The law of 1843 simply prohibited the importation
of slaves entitled to freedom at a future date[389] and against
kidnapping in 1845.[390] The law of 1835 was the leading one. It
prohibited the introduction of any slave who had elsewhere committed
any infamous crime, or any who had been removed from Missouri for
crime, or any imported into the United States contrary to law.[391]

Texas[392] and Florida[393] as States seem never to have prohibited the
importation of slaves except those guilty of crime.

The only act of Arkansas concerning importation was passed in 1838 and
put in force by proclamation of the Governor March 20, 1839. It was
never repealed so far as we could find, and is as follows:

"No person shall knowingly bring or cause to be brought into this
State, or hold, purchase, hire, sell, or otherwise dispose of within
the same; first, any slave who may have committed in any other State,
territory or district within the United States, or any foreign country,
any offense, which, if committed within the State, would, according
to the laws thereof, be felony or infamous crime; or second, any
slave who shall have been convicted in this State, of any felony or
infamous crime, and ordered to be taken or removed out of this State,
according to the laws thereof; or third, any slave who shall have
actually been removed out of this State after a conviction of felony
or other infamous crime, although no order of removal shall have been
made; or fourth, any person or the descendant of any person, who shall
have been imported into the United States, or any of the territories
thereof in contravention of the laws of the United States, and held as
a slave."[394]


[Footnote 301: Hening: Statutes at Large, Vol. IX., p. 471.]

[Footnote 302: Hening: Vol. IX., p. 471. (a) Ibid., Vol. XII., p. 182.]

[Footnote 303: Shepherd: Statutes at Large, of Va., Vol. II., p. 19.]

[Footnote 304: Shepherd: Statutes at Large, Vol. III., p. 251.]

[Footnote 305: Acts of 1810-1811, p. 15, C. 14.]

[Footnote 306: Acts of the General Assembly of Va., 1812-13, p. 26. C.

[Footnote 307: Ibid., 1818-19, p. 37, C. 26.]

[Footnote 308: Faust: Acts of General Assembly of S.C. From 1791 to
1794, Vol. I., p. 215. McCord, Statutes at Large of S.C., Vol. VII., p.

[Footnote 309: McCord: Vol. VII., p. 433.]

[Footnote 310: Ibid.: p. 434 (a) p. 435.]

[Footnote 311: Ibid.: pp. 436-439.]

[Footnote 312: Ibid., p. 444.]

[Footnote 313: McCord: Stat. at Large of S.C., Vol. VII., p. 447.]

[Footnote 314: Ibid., p. 449.]

[Footnote 315: Acts and Resolutions of the General Assembly of S.C.,
1816, p. 22.]

[Footnote 316: Acts of S.C., 1817, p. 17.]

[Footnote 317: Laws of South Carolina, 1818, p. 57.]

[Footnote 318: Ibid., 1823, p. 61.]

[Footnote 319: Ibid., 1835, p. 37.]

[Footnote 320: Ibid., 1848, Dec. 19, 1848.]

[Footnote 321: Laws of S.C., 1848, Dec. 19, 1848.]

[Footnote 322: Revised Statutes, by Authority of the General Assembly,
1836-7, Vol. II, p. 575. Chap. III., Sec. 19. We could not find that
it was ever repealed. It is to be found in the Revised Code of North
Carolina, 1854. As this was taken from the Revised Statutes of 1836-7,
it is natural to find the penalty expressed in dollars, rather than in

[Footnote 323: Hayward: A Manual of the Laws of N.C., to 1817
inclusive, p. 533. Must have been repealed between 1817 and 1819, as it
is not in the Revised Statutes of 1819.]

[Footnote 324: Hurd: Law of Freedom and Bondage, Vol. II, p. 84.]

[Footnote 325: Hurd: Freedom and Bondage, Vol. II, p. 101.]

[Footnote 326: Poore: Fed. and State Constitutions, Part I., p. 395.]

[Footnote 327: Acts of General Assembly of Ga., 1817, p. 139.]

[Footnote 328: Ibid., 1824, p. 124.]

[Footnote 329: Hurd: Law of Freedom and Bondage, Vol. II., p. 103.]

[Footnote 330: Acts of the State of Ga., 1835, p. 267.]

[Footnote 331: Laws of Ga., 1849-50, p. 374.]

[Footnote 332: Acts of Ga., 1851-2, p. 263.]

[Footnote 333: Acts of Ga., 1855-6, p. 271.]

[Footnote 334: Hurd: Law of Freedom and Bondage, Vol. II., p. 19.]

[Footnote 335: Maxcy: The Laws of Md., Vol. II, p. 351. Co. 67.

Hurd: Vol. II., p. 21.]

[Footnote 336: Ibid.: 1897, Chap. 15. Other exceptions by Public and
Private Acts, 1798, C. 76; 1812, C. 76; 1813, C. 55; 1818-19, C. 201;
Hurd: Vol. II., p. 19.]

[Footnote 337: Dorsey: General Laws of Md., 1692 to 1839, Vol. I., p.

[Footnote 338: Laws of Md., 1818, C. 197, Sec. 2.

Dorsey: Vol. I., p. 702.]

[Footnote 339: Laws of Md., 1846, Chap. 340, Sec. 2.]

[Footnote 340: Dorsey: Gen. Public and Private Stat. Law, Vol. II., p.
1069; C. 323, Sec. 4.]

[Footnote 341: Dorsey: Ibid., Vol. I., p. 335, note.

Laws of Gen. Assembly of Md., 1833-4, Chap. 87.]

[Footnote 342: Dorsey: Laws of Md., 1602 to 1839, inclusive, Vol. III.,
p. 2325. Laws of 1839, Ch. 155.]

[Footnote 343: Laws of Md. 1847, Chap. 232, Sec. I.]

[Footnote 344: Laws of Md., 1849-50, Chap. 165, Sec. I., II., IV.]

[Footnote 345: Mackall, Md. Code, adopted by Leg. 1860, Vol. I., p.

[Footnote 346: Poore: Fed. and State Constitutions, Part I., p. 277.]

[Footnote 347: Hurd: Vol. II., p. 74.]

[Footnote 348: Ibid., p. 75.]

[Footnote 349: Laws of State of Del., 1793, p. 105-6. This act of Del.
was sustained by the Court of Baltimore in a case brought before it in
1840. Liberator, July 24, 1840.]

[Footnote 350: Laws of Delaware, Dover, 1829, Vol. VII., p. 122, Feb.
7, 1829.]

[Footnote 351: Hurd: Vol. II., pp. 79-80.]

[Footnote 352: Laws of Del., Vol. VIII., p. 246. Dover, 1837, passed
Feb. 5, 1833.]

[Footnote 353: Poore: Fed. and State Constitutions, Part I., p. 693.]

[Footnote 354: Hurd: Freedom and Bondage, Vol. II., p. 159.]

[Footnote 355: Acts of Second Sess. of Seventh Legislature, pp.

[Footnote 356: Acts 2nd Sess. 8th Leg. (1828), p. 22.]

[Footnote 357: Laws of La., 1829, 1st Sess. 9th Leg., p. 38.]

[Footnote 358: Laws of La., 1831, p. 76.]

[Footnote 359: Acts of Extra Sess. of 10th Leg. of La., p. 4.]

[Footnote 360: Hurd: Vol. II., p. 162.]

[Footnote 361: Laws of La., 1834, p. 6.]

[Footnote 362: Poore: Fed. and State Constitutions, Part II., p. 1050.]

[Footnote 363: Ibid., p. 1064.]

[Footnote 364: Turner: Statutes of the Miss. Territory, Digested by
Authority of the General Assembly, (1816) p. 386-7.]

[Footnote 365: Acts of 1st Sess. of 2nd Gen. Assem. of Miss., p. 5.]

[Footnote 366: Laws Miss., Adj'd. Sess. June, 1822, p. 179.]

[Footnote 367: Poore: Fed. and State Constitutions, Part II., p. 1077.]

[Footnote 368: De Bow's Review, Vol. VIII., p. 23.]

[Footnote 369: Laws of Miss. from 1824 to 1838, Pub. by Authority of
Legislature, p. 758.]

[Footnote 370: Hurd: Vol. II., p. 148.]

[Footnote 371: Ibid., p. 150.]

[Footnote 372: Acts of Assembly of Ala., 1827, p. 44.]

[Footnote 373: Ibid., 1829. p. 63.]

[Footnote 374: Acts of Assembly of Ala., 1831-2, pp. 12-13-14.]

[Footnote 375: Ibid., 1832-3, p. 5.]

[Footnote 376: Hurd: Vol. II., pp. 14-15.]

[Footnote 377: Toulmin: A Collection of all the Acts of Ky. now in
Force (1802), pp. 307-308.

Hurd: Vol. II., pp. 14-15.]

[Footnote 378: Acts. Leg. 1814-15, pp. 435-6.]

[Footnote 379: Ibid., 1832-33, p. 258.]

[Footnote 380: Laws of Kentucky, 1832-33, p. 258.]

[Footnote 381: Hurd: Vol. II., p. 89 and Note 2.]

[Footnote 382: Acts of Tenn., 2nd Sess., 9th Gen. Assembly (1812), p.

[Footnote 383: Acts of the Extra Sess. of the 16th General Assembly of
Tennessee, 1826, p. 31.]

[Footnote 384: Acts of General Assembly of Tenn., 1855-6, p. 71.]

[Footnote 385: Poore: Fed. and State Con., Part II., p. 1107.]

[Footnote 386: Ibid., Part I., p. 113.]

[Footnote 387: Ibid., p. 329.]

[Footnote 388: Ibid., Part II., p. 1779.]

[Footnote 389: Hurd: Vol. II., p. 170.]

[Footnote 390: Revised Statutes of Mo., Revised and Digested by 13th
Gen. Assembly (1844-5), p. 351.]

[Footnote 391: Revised Statutes of Mo. (1844-5), p. 1013.]

[Footnote 392: Hurd: Vol. II., p. 199.]

[Footnote 393: Ibid., p. 192.]

[Footnote 394: English: Digest of Statutes of Arkansas, p. 947, Chap.
154. Sec. 30. Same law in Digest by Gould, pub. 1858, by authority of
Legislature, Chap. 162, Sec. 28.]


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 2 vols. Boston, 1862.

*** End of this Doctrine Publishing Corporation Digital Book "The Domestic Slave Trade of the Southern States" ***

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