A little about the history of Charleston, South Carolina.

The 1808 ban on the United States’ participation in the international slave trade led to a renewed demand for slave labor, which was satisfied, in part, by the creation of a domestic slave-trading system in which Charleston functioned as a major slave collecting and reselling center. The Old Slave Mart Museum, located at 6 Chalmers St., recounts the story of Charleston’s role in this inter-state slave trade by focusing on the history of this particular building and site and the slave sales that occurred here.

In the seven decades between the drafting of the U.S. Constitution and the Civil War, more than one million American-born slaves were sold away from plantations in the upper South to work the rapidly expanding cotton and sugar plantations in the lower South. In Charleston, enslaved African Americans were customarily sold on the north side of the Old Exchange Building. An 1856 city ordinance prohibited this practice of public sales, resulting in the opening of the Old Slave Mart and a number of other sales rooms, yards, or marts along Chalmers, State and Queen Streets.


  1. Dave Ricks says

    Washington DC has a goofy shape on a map from the 1846 retrocession of land from DC back to Virginia. The retrocession can be attributed to more than one reason, but one reason was to protect the domestic or interstate sale of slaves from Maryland and Virginia to the Deep South.

    Google Maps today can show us where the Franklin & Armfeld slave pens were, in the 1300 block of Duke Street, Alexandria VA, but there were lesser traders on Duke Street, too.

    I respect Alexandria VA for posting this detailed history of the situation. One takeaway I get is this interstate slave trade was in the nation’s capital until the 1846 retrocession. I’m not beating myself up with white liberal guilt, I’m just saying as fact, slavery is integral to US history, and when I see a map of DC, I see it.

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