January 18, 2020

Today in History: Slave Auction

A slave auction at the south

Today in History–March 3–the Library of Congress features the largest recorded slave auction in U.S. history, began on this date in 1859. Referred to as  “The Weeping Time”, the two-day auction of 436 men, women, and children formerly held by Pierce M. Butler was held pay off Butler’s financial losses from the crash of 1857-58 as well as his gambling debts. A journalist’s account, What Became of the Slaves on a Georgia Plantation?, includes vivid descriptions of the auction and many of the families described in the’ report had appeared years earlier in a series of letters written by British actress and author Frances Ann Kemble. Learn more about this tragic day in U.S. history by visiting the Today in History section, then clicking the links below.

Mr. Butler’s Slave Auction” Burlington Free Press 25 March 1859

Great Auction-Sale of Slaves at Savannah, GeorgiaThe Atlantic Monthly Volume 4, Issue 23, September 1859

What Became of the Slaves on a Georgia Plantation? by Q. K. Philander Doesticks (Mortimer Thomson) (1863)

Q. K. Philander Doesticks newspaper article coverage (1850-18790)

Journal of a residence on a Georgian plantation in 1838-1839 by Frances Anne Kemble (1863)

Fanny Kemble in America: or, The journal of an actress reviewed (1835)

Frances Ann Kemble image set

Ten Years on a Georgia Plantation Since the War by Frances Butler Leigh (1883)

More stories about “The Weeping Time”

The Slave-Auction by John Theophilus Kramer (1859)

U.S. newspaper articles mentioning slave auctions

Slave auction image set

Negro sale primary source set

Twelve years a slave : narrative of Solomon Northup, a citizen of New-York, kidnapped in Washington City in 1841, and rescued in 1853 (1853)

Sketches of slave life, or, Illustrations of the ‘peculiar institution’ by Peter Randolph, an emancipated slave (1855)

Biography of a Slave; Being the Experiences of Rev. Charles Thompson, a Preacher of the United Brethren Church, While a Slave in the South (1875)

Thirty Years a Slave Autobiography of Louis Hughes (1897)

Primary Source Spotlight: Slavery (U.S.)

Primary Source Learning: Slavery (U.S.)

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