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Slave Pen

Discussion in 'Civil War Photography' started by tmh10, Jul 25, 2012.

  1. tmh10

    tmh10 Captain

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    [​IMG]
    Alexandria, Virginia. Slave pen. Exterior view.
    CREATED/PUBLISHED
    [between 1861 and 1869]
    NOTES
    Caption from negative sleeve: SlavePen, Alexandria, Va.
    Two plates form left (LC-B811-2300A) and right (LC-B811-2300B) halves of a stereograph pair.
    Forms part of Civil War glass negative collection (Library of Congress).

    [​IMG]

    Alexandria, Virginia. Slave pen. Interior view.
    CREATED/PUBLISHED
    [between 1861 and 1869]
    NOTES
    Caption from negative sleeve: SlavePen, Alexandria, Va.
    Two plates form left (LC-B811-2299B) and right (LC-B811-2299A) halves of a stereograph pair.
    Forms part of Civil War glass negative collection (Library of Congress).

    [​IMG]

    Alexandria, Virginia. Slave pen. Interior view.
    CREATED/PUBLISHED
    [between 1861 and 1869]
    NOTES
    Caption from negative sleeve: SlavePen, Alexandria, Va.
    Two plates form left (LC-B811-2298A) and right (LC-B811-2298B) halves of a stereograph pair.
    Forms part of Civil War glass negative collection (Library of Congress).
    Diana9, pamc153PA, Glorybound and 6 others like this.

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  3. jessgettysburg1863

    jessgettysburg1863 2nd Lieutenant

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    Great pics Ted, but my god, how were people black or white, it doesn't
    matter, be expected to live in conditions like that? So very very sad.

    Jess.
  4. tmh10

    tmh10 Captain

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    I found these pictures to be a bit disturbing, as I haven't seen them before, but they are what they are and an important piece of history.
  5. jessgettysburg1863

    jessgettysburg1863 2nd Lieutenant

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    Yes indeed Ted.
  6. reading48

    reading48 1st Lieutenant

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    Very harsh living conditions...and then had to toil in the fields and plantation grounds all day....
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  7. donna

    donna Lt. Colonel Forum Host

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    At the National Underground Railroad Freedom Center Museum in Cincinnati, Ohio they have an actual Slave Pen. "The Slave Pen was built in the early 1800s and was recovered from a farm in Mason County, Kentucky less than 60 miles from the Freedom Center. The structure was used as a holding pen by Kentucky slave trader, Captain John W. Anderson, to temporarily keep enslaved people being moved further south for sale. The slave pen played an integral role in the greater story of the internal slave trade in America."

    From the Freedom Center site at http://www.freedomcenter.org/visit-the-center/exhibits/

    If you are ever in Cincinnati, Ohio this is a must see Museum.
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  8. johan_steele

    johan_steele Lt. Colonel Retired Moderator

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    And you will find people today, on this board, who will insist slaves had it so good they were happy & content in chattel slavery...
  9. truthckr

    truthckr First Sergeant

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    The pictures are very disturbing, as they should be. Being a Southern Sympathizer doesn't mean we have to c0ndone their behavior. But to be fair, not necessarily right, slavery was legal until Dec of 1865.
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  10. dvrmte

    dvrmte Major

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    Most southern slaves never saw the interior of a slave pen. They were like jail cells and their primary use was to hold slaves prior to sale at auction.
  11. Georgia Sixth

    Georgia Sixth First Sergeant

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  12. Littlestown

    Littlestown 2nd Lieutenant Forum Host

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    Thanks for the information Donna. I was thinking that the slave pens were used in this manner (and as dvrmte stated). Went on a tour of old historic Jefferson, TX, many, many years ago, that included an old slave pen. That particular slave pen was adjacent to where the slave auctions were held.
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  13. Littlestown

    Littlestown 2nd Lieutenant Forum Host

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    Thank you tmh10, for posting these historic old photos. I've never seen them before. History often isn't pretty, but, it needs to be studied and remembered nonetheless.
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  14. bobs0651

    bobs0651 Private

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    IMHO that poor soul looking out at us in the first picture says it all
    the very thought of human beings kept in pens prior to auction makes me sick in my guts and hurting in my soul.
    may God have mercy on them all and moreso for those who kept them as such. they are the ones who will be doing time in hell when its there time to die.
    a very sick time in our beloved history.

    thank you kindly tmh10 for sharing this needed glimpse of history.
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  15. Joshua Horn

    Joshua Horn Sergeant

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    These pens were probably used when slaves were being auctioned, their quarters would have been a little better when they were actually working.
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  16. James B White

    James B White 2nd Lieutenant Trivia Game Winner

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    Dumb question maybe, but in the second picture, what are the large half-round things on the ground?

    Well, actually, for these pictures specifically, there was that even worse interlude, where they had to be sold first, shipped elsewhere, put under a new master or overseer, and then toil in the fields.

    I see that several posts have already answered this, but since I have this typed up, what the heck, I'll post it anyway.

    These would be the temporary quarters where enslaved people would be housed by a slave trader, awaiting sale, hence the jail-like atmosphere. Slave catchers could also pay by the day to hold slaves in them, waiting for their masters to claim them. They really were just privately run jails, to keep slaves from escaping, while being temporarily held. There were usually hotels nearby for buyers, putting the relative living conditions of whites and blacks in stark contrast. Alexandria and similar upper-south port cities were popular areas for traders, since transportation was easy by ship along the coast down to New Orleans. Elsewhere, they might be taken on foot, by rail or by inland ship.

    So, typically, an enslaved person from the surrounding area would be sold or consigned by his/her owner to an agent of a slave trader. When slaves were in high demand, traders would put ads in the paper, "Negroes wanted," or go to estate sales, or just keep in touch with friends of friends who might be selling. An enslaved person might expect what was going to happen, if the master was obviously going bankrupt, or if an owner died and an estate needed settled, or if he/she was caught running away or otherwise causing trouble and was going to be sold south to be gotten rid of.

    Once sold or consigned off the plantation to an agent, he/she would be transported with others, acquaintances or strangers from the area, probably on foot, under guard, maybe shackled, and arrive at a slave pen like those pictured. The trader's goal was then to make the wares look as attractive as possible. Those with domestic skills might get new cheap servants' uniforms. The lighter-skinned, attractive females might be headed for the fancy trade in New Orleans, while prime field hands--healthy young men--would be destined for the cotton fields.

    When auction day came, or traders arrived for private sales, the people would be brought out for display, sold, then shipped south. Or if the trader bought them on speculation, they might be shipped south to his New Orleans partner--lots of traders kept one partner in the upper south, one in the lower--where the person would arrive at a similar jail down there, then be sold to a final buyer.

    Plantation owners were--or pretended to be--as horrified at these slave jails and slave auctions as anyone, because of course they treated their slaves paternally and never sold them off like that, though of course they did. But slave traders were the scapegoats, credited with the evils of slavery even by slave-owners, and treated as not-quite-genteel citizens, even though they might be richer than those who looked down on them.

    A typical ad for a slave jail in the 1830s in Richmond, was picked up by the abolitionist papers and reprinted many times, offering a fertile field for sarcastic introductory remarks:

    A description of a typical jail owner, written with an abolitionist slant, was the following one of Robert Lumpkin, again in Richmond, but things didn't vary significantly in any of the large upper-south trading cities like Alexandria (quoted from here, p. 187-188, paragraphs added for easier reading):

  17. reading48

    reading48 1st Lieutenant

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    dvrmte, joshua and James....tks.... for the info...
  18. Dave Wilma

    Dave Wilma Sergeant Major Forum Host

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    The term for a group of slaves chained together is "coffle."

    Communities like Charleston, often had, as part of their jails, punishment devices for slaves. Holders could pay the sheriff to flog a slave or chain him or her to a merry-go-round or treadmill or tread wheel torture device. The prisoners were required to march in a circle to exhaustion. This process was a private contract between the holder and the sheriff or other party as a service-for-fee, like medical care, cost borne by the holder. Slave holders had to be careful about flogging slaves since any purchaser first looked for scars that indicated a less-than-compliant hand. Flogging scars degraded the market value so punishments like the treadmills were probably considered progressive.
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  19. donna

    donna Lt. Colonel Forum Host

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    There is a Highway Marker in Louisville, Kentucky marking the site of Slave Pen that was there. The marker is entitled "Slave Trading in Louisville & Garrison Slave Pen Site". It is located at the corner of 2nd Street and Main Street in downtown Louisville. The one side states: "Slave Trading in Louisville By the 1850s, Kentucky was annually exporting between 2500 and 4000 of its slaves down river to the large plantations father south. To prevent runaways, traders operating near the Ohio River kept the slaves shackled together in pens when not being displayed to buyers. Slave traders were often social outcasts avoided by all but fellow traders. The other side of marker states: " Garrison Slave Pen Site Matthew Garrison was a well known Kentucky slave speculator in the Deep South. A white abolitionist leader, Re. Calvin Fairbank, wrote in 1851 that four slave markets, including Garrison's and Arteburn's, sold men, women, and children "like sheep".
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  20. Glorybound

    Glorybound Major Retired Moderator

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    [​IMG]





    [​IMG]
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  21. donna

    donna Lt. Colonel Forum Host

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    Lee thanks for posting photo of marker.

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