Slave Auction, Richmond, Virginia, 1861

Slave Auction

Slave Auction created in 1861. This article was Published by the Illustrated London News (Feb. 16, 1861), vol. 38, p.139.

http://hitchcock.itc.virginia.edu/Slavery/details.php?categorynum=6&categoryName=Slave%20Sales%20and%20Auctions:%20African%20Coast%20and%20the%20Americas&theRecord=1&recordCount=75

This article created in 1861 shows an African man with his wife and child being sold at a slave auction. The auction was held in Richmond, Virginia at the beginning of the Civil War. This African American family must have been petrified realizing they may never see each other again. How would you feel if you were split up from your family and never to see them again? As the family became aware of the situation, the white slave owners were having a great time. Slave auctions in the 19th centuries must have been a place where all the slave owners met to discuss plantation tactics or trading slaves. Even though they were there for business, some of the owners are smoking and chit chatting. For plantation owners, it was all just a game. To slaves, it was a cycle of abuse and demeaning acts. Slavery absolutely destroyed generations of families.

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4 thoughts on “Slave Auction, Richmond, Virginia, 1861”

  1. I also agree that this picture is absolutely chilling. Families are being split up, people’s lives are being ruined, and the white plantation owners feel no accountability or remorse to this. Today it is unfathomable to cause such pain to another human and have no concern for your actions. I cannot believe that the men do not even face the auction or the slaves. It is just another day on the job to them but for the slaves, it is a day faced with uncertainty for their future.

  2. I find the casualness nature of this photo to be shocking. Look at how one man is seated, with another man relaxing his arms on his chair. Look also at the two men in the bottom right hand corner who aren’t even looking at the auction as this is such a typical event. The normalcy that appears in the photo is disturbing. It is unbelievable how something so normal back then is now beyond horrifying.

  3. If you put yourself in their shoes, I think that it is possible to why this disturbing act occurred during this time. White men believed that the blacks were not human beings. They were just workers, needed to complete task and clean their homes. I definitely agree with the comments before and I find it shocking to see, what I believe is an accurate representation of the slave trade. Slavery was awful and so was this mindset that many men had regarding equality between races.

  4. I certainly agree that the casualty of the photo is alarming, however, like the previous comment mentioned it isn’t surprising. At the time slave auctions were common although as you said the fear of losing family members was probably something they never got use to. The horror and pain of such an event taking place is evident but the normality of it is even more powerful.

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