The Richmond History Podcast

Friday, February 10, 2012

last slave auction house

The "Last building known to have been used in the slave trade" the corner of 15th and Cary St Richmond, VA photo by Jeff Majer

Richmond's Shockoe area was one of the busiest slave trading areas in the country.  Many historic buildings have been destroyed by repeated floods and fires including the enormous "Evacuation Fire" as the Confederates left in early April, 1865 that burnt somewhere between 800-1000 buildings in less then a day. According to an old marker, the building pictured above is the last known to have been used in the slave trade.  But, just because a sign says something doesn't mean that it is true  There new sign put in last year by The Richmond Slave Trail Commission that leaves off the "last" part.  Formerly the Davis Trading Company, it is now being renovated into condos. Why is that left off?  It may not be a great selling point for the realtor, "Move in, they used to sell slaves here!!!"  If anyone knows post it in the comments below.
It was by far not the only slave auction site.  In pre-Civil War Richmond, it would not be uncommon to see a red flag hanging out side an auction house or a slave waving a red flag walking up and down the street announcing a slave auction was to take place.  It is hard to believe people being inspected as if they were cattle with fingers in the their mouth or women (who could not be stripped in public) being inspected naked in private could be anything but appalling, but this map, from the Hidden Patterns of the Civil War, produced by The Digital Scholarship Lab at The University of Richmond shows how plentiful these slave auction houses would have been in 1853.
Read the essay that accompanies the map.

The Old Marker
The New Marker Part of Richmond's Slave trail

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