Slave sales as an important feature of the Virginia economy have their origins in changes that occurred late in the eighteenth century. In , the General Assembly abolished entail , a practice that required large estates to be kept intact through generations. In , the assembly abolished primogeniture , which required that those estates be passed on to the eldest son.
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So frequent were their occurrence in the first chapter that almost every other page ends with a group of slaves, auctioned together on March 2 and 3, It is hard to read on. Upon further reflection, it is clear that historian Anne C. Bailey uses these lists to reveal the harsh realities of slavery : these matter-of-fact bundles of chattel punctuate the chapter because this was precisely how those days in March unfolded. As the clock ticked, bid callers and criers shouted chattel number, age, and laboring ability; and buyers hurled insults and fondled the flesh of their intending purchase. Contrasting some recent works on slavery that, critically and importantly, engage a numbers game and put forth various theories that capture, grapple with, and explain the logic of racial slavery , The Weeping Time , graphically yet sensitively illustrates the socio-economic practice and human toll of slavery. Tracking the negotiated sale of enslaved Black people belonging to the Butler plantations, this study is a thoughtful illustration of what it meant to turn human beings into commodity and serves as an illuminating companion when grappling such theories as social death , chattel principle , and flesh. For it was the financial mismanagement, gambling debts, and a bitter divorce that forced the decision to sell wholesale the slaves who had lived on the properties for almost their entire lives. Chattel principle, explained the fugitive slave, James W. Pennington is the vulnerability, imminent separation, and destruction of the life of even the most privileged, elite, and beloved slave.
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Once upon a time in America, Black women routinely were forced to stand naked on a slave auction block in front of hordes of white men who were trying to decide if each was worth the price they were asked to pay. Often, her young children would cling to her legs as she was sold separately to the highest bidder. She would wail in despair at the thought of losing her babies.
On the eve of the Civil War, years ago, the largest sale of enslaved people in the U. A plaque erected by the Georgia Historical Society on the Savannah, Georgia, racetrack where the sale took place—and which is still used to this day—offers a brief synopsis of what happened, excerpted here:. Butler sold men, women and children from his Butler Island and Hampton plantations near Darien, Georgia. The breakup of families and the loss of home became part of African-American heritage remembered as 'the weeping time. His grandson was less politically active and less able to manage money or property, resulting in the need for the sale. It was advertised for weeks in advance in newspapers across the south, Monroe writes, and attracted Northern notice as well. Journalist Mortimer Thomson of the New York Tribune went undercover posing as a buyer to write about the event. Philander Doesticks. But the contents of that article are deadly serious. Writing from a politicized Northern perspective, Thomson still describes the circumstances of the auction with a degree of accuracy.