Friday, August 26, 2011

The Slave Mart at Charleston, South Carolina

Slave Market, Charleston, South Carolina

"Slavery in Charleston: A chronicle of human bondage in the Holy City," by Brian Hicks, April 2011, the Post and Courier: Charles Carleton Coffin would be haunted by the sight for the rest of his life.

Behind the iron gate of the "MART," Coffin found a long hall lined with benches down one wall, a platform on the other and, beyond it, a four-story brick building with grated windows and iron doors.

He was standing in both a prison yard and an auction house.

Coffin, a reporter with the Boston Journal, was one of the first newspapermen to reach Charleston after the Confederate military abandoned it in February 1865. He immediately set out in search of the city's largest slave market so he could describe it for his readers in Massachusetts.

As Coffin stood looking at the auction block, he heard a voice behind him.

"I was sold there upon that table two years ago."

Her name was Dinah More, Coffin would later write, and she was one of the thousands of enslaved Africans who had passed through that gate as property.

The start of the Civil War 150 years ago this week marked the beginning of the end for the "peculiar institution" of slavery. In 1865, the 13th Amendment to the Constitution officially abolished slavery in the reconstructed United States, bringing great change to the country's culture and the South's economy.
By 1860, there were 4 million slaves in the United States, and 400,000 of them -- 10 percent -- lived in South Carolina. African-Americans, enslaved and free, made up 57 percent of the state's population. Charleston was the nation's capital of the slave trade, the place where many of those enslaved people first landed in the New World.

The city was built on slave labor and, for nearly 200 years, thrived under a slave economy.

Nearly a century and a half has passed since slavery was abolished, but the wounds still linger. Even in 1865, long after Charleston's slave mart had sold its last human being, the occasion was bittersweet. When Coffin told More that she was free, and would never be sold again, she was melancholy.

"O the blessed Jesus, He has heard my prayer," More said. "I am so glad; only I wish I could see my husband. He was sold at the same time into the country, and has gone I don't know where."

In the mid-19th century, it was an all-too-common story.

(eource: Post and Courier)


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  3. Its sad to say that after 500 years and counting slavery has never ended in this country and actually going to Charleston and seeing what my people have endured makes me appreciate my ancestors even more building this country and get no credit for our labor, ridicules some country!!

  4. The one place next to the harbor. where seeing chains and processing tables. Look to the water and thought about a voyage to America.


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