Notable Antebellum Slave Traders

Bruce Vail

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Austin Woolfolk, Baltimore
Hope Slatter, Baltimore

"At that time, the city's leading slave trader was Austin Woolfolk. Woolfolk won notoriety for beating up Benjamin Lundy, a Baltimore abolitionist, who had referred to him in his journal, Genius of Universal Emancipation, as a "monster in human shape." Lundy took Woolfolk to court, but the judge -- pro-slavery in his sympathies, like most white Baltimoreans -- took note of the provoking nature of the name-calling and fined the slave trader only $1.

In The Sun in 1838, Hope H. Slatter, a Georgia-born trader who succeeded Woolfolk as Baltimore's leading trafficker in human beings, announced under the heading "Cash for Negroes" the opening of a private jail at Pratt and Howard, "not surpassed by any establishment of the kind in the United States." Slatter offered to house and feed slaves there for 25 cents a day, declaring: "I hold myself bound to make good all jail breaking or escapes from my establishment."

Read the whole thing: http://articles.baltimoresun.com/19...293_1_slave-trade-buy-slaves-slaves-were-sold
 
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Given the powerful Northern economic interests that profited from, and were so heavily invested in Southern slave labor - the Northern banking, shipping, and textile industries, to name a few - it is actually surprising, but also reassuring, to me that an abolitionist movement ever took hold in the North. The rise of abolitionism in the face all those extremely powerful opposing currents is actually a tribute to American democracy and the American character.
 

Bruce Vail

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Issac Franklin

220px-Isaac-franklin-by-wb-cooper.jpg


Isaac Franklin (May 26, 1789 – April 27, 1846) was an American slave trader and planter. He was the co-founder of Franklin & Armfield, "the largest slave trading firm" in the United States,[1] and the owner of six plantations in Louisianaand Tennessee, one of which, Fairvue, is listed on the National Register of Historic Places, while another one, Angola, is the largest maximum-security prison in the United States.
 

Bruce Vail

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Henry Laurens

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Charleston, South Carolina was a primary point of entry for captured Africans shipped to America during the 18th century. Charleston merchant Henry Laurens played a major role in the shipping and selling of many of these African slaves. Between 1751 and 1761 the firm of Austin & Laurens sold an estimated 7,800 African men, women, and children. Young men often sold for as much £30 sterling each, young women £20, and children about £10 each. Consequently, after just one decade of selling human beings, Henry Laurens became one of the richest men in the British colonies of America. Henry Laurens would go on to become a leading American patriot and President of the Continental Congress.

So who was Henry Laurens? How did he build his slaving empire? And how did he manage to make the transition from a slave merchant in the southern colonies to the President of the Continental Congress? Given recent interest in the Transatlantic Slave Trade and in African American studies, it is interesting to note that Henry Laurens, a man who had such a major impact on the lives of so many human beings, has but one biography. David Duncan Wallace’s “The Life of Henry Laurens With a Sketch of the Life of Lieutenant-Colonel John Laurens” (John Laurens was Henry Laurens son). Wallace’s book was written in 1915, almost 100 years ago! I believe an updated biography of Henry Laurens is well past due. With that in mind, I hope to use this website as a research and writing platform for learning more about Henry Laurens and the British slave trade to Charleston, South Carolina during the 18th century. I also hope that you will find something of interest on my website, and that you will share your own research as well.

References:

David Eltis and David Richardson, Atlas of the Transatlantic Slave Trade (New Haven & London: Yale University Press, 2010).

Edward Ball, Slaves in the Family (New York: Ballantine Books, 2001).

Philip M. Hamer, George C. Rogers, Jr. and Maude E. Lyles, The Papers of Henry Laurens Volume One: Sept. 11, 1746 – Oct. 31, 1755 (Columbia, S.C.: University of South Carolina Press, 1968).

David Duncan Wallace, The Life of Henry Laurens With a Sketch of the Life of Lieutenant-Colonel John Laurens (New York and London: G.P. Putnam’s Sons, 1915).



See: https://henrylaurens.wordpress.com/
 
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byron ed

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Midwest
...it is actually surprising, but also reassuring, to me that an abolitionist movement ever took hold in the North...

In my study of it, I'm not sure it would have been thought of that way at the time. It was the anti-slavery movement that took hold in the North. Abolitionism was a a fringe movement that did not take hold much, and in fact was popularly despised.

The confusion comes because the newspapers and politicians, and especially Southerners, called any anti-slavery action or person abolitionist. But to be honest and in reality most Northern anti-slavery types were actually "anti slaves coming into their states." Most of them, like Lincoln, were not for not abolishing slavery where it already was -- so not actually abolitionist despite what they were called.
 
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In my study of it, I'm not sure it would have been thought of that way at the time. It was the anti-slavery movement that took hold in the North. Abolitionism was a a fringe movement that did not take hold much, and in fact was popularly despised.

The confusion comes because the newspapers and politicians, and especially Southerners, called any anti-slavery action or person abolitionist. But to be honest and in reality most Northern anti-slavery types were actually "anti slaves coming into their states." Most of them, like Lincoln, were not for not abolishing slavery where it already was -- so not actually abolitionist despite what they were called.

A fair point. Nevertheless, many northerners despised the institution of slavery in general, because of its intrinsic devaluation of, and its insult to the dignity of free labor. This sentiment was expressed most eloquently in 1847 by David Wilmot of Pennsylvania, no friend to southern slaves. Arguing on the floor of the House for his proposal to ban the expansion of slavery into the lands that the US imminently expected to seize from Mexico in the war stemming from the recent annexation of Texas, he said,

“I make no war upon the South nor upon slavery in the South. I have no squeamish sensitiveness upon the subject of slavery, nor morbid sympathy for the slave. I plead the cause of the rights of white freemen. I would preserve for free white labor a fair country, a rich inheritance, where the sons of toil, of my own race and own color, can live without the disgrace which association with negro slavery brings upon free labor. I stand for the inviolability of free territory. It shall remain free, so far as my voice or vote can aid in the preservation of its character.”

So here was a guy who apparently didn't care a rat's behind about the welfare of southern slaves, but was nevertheless intent on preventing the spread of slavery beyond its existing borders. So yes, Wilmot and his ilk were anti-slavery, not abolitionist. They were perfectly willing to tolerate slavery in the South, but they intrinsically despised the institution and didn't want it to spread even to lands that did not include their own. So in the common cause of preventing the spread of slavery, they had already met abolitionists half way - a point not lost on southern slaveholders. Slaveholders understood that being "anti-slavery" but not "abolitionist" was like being only a little pregnant. Either attitude placed one on a collision course with southern interests.

There is also the fact that "Uncle Tom's Cabin," an unequivocal moral indictment of slavery, sold a million copies in the decade prior to 1861, indicating that abolitionism wasn't quite as fringe a viewpoint as some argue.
 
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John Hartwell

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Most anti-slavery people, Lincoln included, wanted slavery to end, but understood that Constitutionally only the slave states themselves could do it. True Abolitionists wanted abolition imposed upon those states by any and all means -- regardless of constitutionality.

While a few northern states legislated to exclude blacks, they all deeply resented southern slave catchers operating in the North. If they were so intent upon keeping blacks out, why did they not welcome and cooperate with the FSL and the Dred Scott decision?
 
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Most anti-slavery people, Lincoln included, wanted slavery to end, but understood that Constitutionally only the slave states themselves could do it. True Abolitionists wanted abolition imposed upon those states by any and all means -- regardless of constitutionality.

While a few northern states legislated to exclude blacks, they all deeply resented southern slave catchers operating in the North. If they were so intent upon keeping blacks out, why did they not welcome and cooperate with the FSL and the Dred Scott decision?

Sorry, I had misread your post.

We are in agreement that Lincoln wanted slavery to end. As early as 1844, when a candidate for Congress from Illinois, Lincoln said,

“I hold it to be a paramount duty of us in the free states, due to the Union of the states, and perhaps to Liberty itself (paradox though it may seem) to let the slavery of the other states alone, while on the other hand, I hold it to be equally clear, that we should never knowingly lend ourselves directly or indirectly to prevent that slavery from dying a natural death–to find new places for it to live in, when it can no longer exist in the old.”

He had already seen slavery vanish from the North, and he had reason to believe that if its expansion could be blocked, it would die a natural death in the South as well. (In 1860, many eastern slaveholders were already staying afloat economically only by "growing" slaves for sale further south and west!) Indeed, Lincoln's fondest hope was the secessionists' greatest fear. Secessionists essentially agreed with Lincoln's analysis.
 
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saddlebum92

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Just an FYI. The numero uno slave traders par excellance were the Portuguesa. With the Canary Islands and the Azores as jumping points they far outdid any other European country hands down. The African slave trade, east and west coast, is now considered a "Holocaust" of the first magnitude. The Portuguese were major players.

American slave traders were also famous American "heroes" like Jim Bowie, Lafite (the pirate & helper at the Battle of NO) and Alexander Hamilton of $10 fame whose. mama was not "white".

Patty Canon intrigues me the most. Trying to find more info on her. Operated on the Mason-Dixon line. Any human who wasn't white and got in her sites was bound for slavery.

Miz Cannon operated out of Federalsburg on Maryland's Eastern Shore and was part of the Underground Railroad; she may have interacted with Harriet Tubman at times. Her activities MAY Have been financed by the occasional "shortstopping " and resale into slavery of some of her charges. She was known to have done this, but how often is not known. The trail from her still-existing and lived-in farm ran upshore and into Baltimore County, where "Paterollers" were notoriously active, and known to have contacts with the shore. These men made a great deal of money for awhile by reselling any Blacks they captured. Some were not runaways, but free men or women; NONE appear to have been returned to those claiming ownership. This is the rotten little Elephant in the Railroad's livingroom. Much more research is needful, but it lends itself to some interesting speculations. Who knew, and when, and was anyone even trying to correct it, or were they all looking elsewhere?
As an aside, the current NAACP building in Baltimore, when inspected during purchase proceedings, was found to have a couple of Hiding Places that would have been very difficult to smoke out.The theory is they were used to hide runaways heading for Pennsylvania. I've often wondered if The 1863 campaign into Maryland was not partially to interdict the Railroad, since boat traffic up the Susquehanna would have been one route closeable by properly sited Cannon, and Stuart DID go that far from Gettysburg before turning around.

Cannon's House is known, but not identified (can't blame the owners), but asking around town MIGHT get someone to tell you where to look. It's a pretty prosperous- looking farm house for its age.
 
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John Hartwell

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I must disagree with your contention that Lincoln didn't want slavery to end. As early as 1844, when a candidate for Congress from Illinois, Lincoln said,

“I hold it to be a paramount duty of us in the free states, due to the Union of the states, and perhaps to Liberty itself (paradox though it may seem) to let the slavery of the other states alone, while on the other hand, I hold it to be equally clear, that we should never knowingly lend ourselves directly or indirectly to prevent that slavery from dying a natural death–to find new places for it to live in, when it can no longer exist in the old.”

He had already seen slavery vanish from the North, and he had reason to believe that if its expansion could be blocked, it would die a natural death in the South as well. (In 1860, many eastern slaveholders were already staying afloat economically only by "growing" slaves for sale further south and west!) Indeed, Lincoln's fondest hope was the secessionists' greatest fear. Secessionists essentially agreed with Lincoln's analysis.

I think you misread my first line: "Most anti-slavery people, Lincoln included, wanted slavery to end." Yes, he was strongly opposed to slavery from an early age, but felt himself limited by the Constitution, to restricting its expansion, thereby hastening its death.
 

Dedej

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Miz Cannon operated out of Federalsburg on Maryland's Eastern Shore and was part of the Underground Railroad; she may have interacted with Harriet Tubman at times. Her activities MAY Have been financed by the occasional "shortstopping " and resale into slavery of some of her charges. She was known to have done this, but how often is not known. The trail from her still-existing and lived-in farm ran upshore and into Baltimore County, where "Paterollers" were notoriously active, and known to have contacts with the shore. These men made a great deal of money for awhile by reselling any Blacks they captured. Some were not runaways, but free men or women; NONE appear to have been returned to those claiming ownership. This is the rotten little Elephant in the Railroad's livingroom. Much more research is needful, but it lends itself to some interesting speculations. Who knew, and when, and was anyone even trying to correct it, or were they all looking elsewhere?
As an aside, the current NAACP building in Baltimore, when inspected during purchase proceedings, was found to have a couple of Hiding Places that would have been very difficult to smoke out.The theory is they were used to hide runaways heading for Pennsylvania. I've often wondered if The 1863 campaign into Maryland was not partially to interdict the Railroad, since boat traffic up the Susquehanna would have been one route closeable by properly sited Cannon, and Stuart DID go that far from Gettysburg before turning around.

Cannon's House is known, but not identified (can't blame the owners), but asking around town MIGHT get someone to tell you where to look. It's a pretty prosperous- looking farm house for its age.

Thanks for this post!

Can you explain "shortstopping" and how it worked?

Baltimore was a very large slave trading location. Do you know how they (runaways) would have been able to hide out there? Any accounts you know of that hid or ran to Baltimore via the UGR?

Also, is it true that she killed a child? Or just fiction?
 

WJC

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Robert Lumpkin
I Just read this article about slave trading in Richmond and Lumpkin's role.
How the Slave Trade Built America
BY MAURIE D. MCINNIS APRIL 3, 2015 7:00 AM April 3, 2015 7:00 am
disunion45.gif


Disunion follows the Civil War as it unfolded.

We don’t know exactly when the last sale of enslaved persons occurred in Richmond, Va., known as “the great slave market of the South,” but it must have taken place before April 3, 1865. On the previous day, the order had come to evacuate in advance of the arrival of Union troops who liberated the city.

Amid the chaos, a slave trader named Robert Lumpkin still had a jail full of people he was hoping to sell. According to the journalist Charles Carleton Coffin, who was there to witness the fall of Richmond, after learning of the order to evacuate, Lumpkin “quickly handcuffed his human chattels,” about 50 men, women and children, and marched them four blocks south to the Danville-Richmond Railroad depot on the banks of the James River. He was hoping to whisk them away, and find buyers for them in another city.

When they arrived, however, “there was no room for them on the train which whirled the Confederate Government from the capital. Soldiers with fixed bayonets forced them back. It was the last slave gang seen in this Western world.” Lumpkin was angry, but there was nothing he could do. So, “with oaths and curses loud and deep,” Coffin reported, Lumpkin was forced “to unlock their handcuffs and allow them to go free.” These 50 people were worth about $50,000, according to Coffin, “but on that Sunday morning were of less value than the mule and the wagon which had drawn the slave-trader’s trunk to the station.”

Even though Lumpkin’s coffle was not, as Coffin so colorfully pronounced it, “the last slave gang seen in this Western world,” his comment points to the way that the slave trade had become the iconic symbol of the institution of slavery. And with Lee’s surrender at Appomattox only a few days later, the reporter’s prophetic statement became true for the United States. It was the end of the slave traders and slave gangs.
Read more at https://opinionator.blogs.nytimes.com/2015/04/03/how-the-slave-trade-built-america/
 
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I think you misread my first line: "Most anti-slavery people, Lincoln included, wanted slavery to end." Yes, he was strongly opposed to slavery from an early age, but felt himself limited by the Constitution, to restricting its expansion, thereby hastening its death.
Yes, I certainly did misread your post, and I corrected mine accordingly.
 

O' Be Joyful

Sergeant Major
Whenever threads, such as this one, come up I always wonder to myself...What would James B White or @brass napoleon have stored in their heads and files, that could have added to a discussion such as this that centers on Slavery and Abolitionists? Then, I sigh, "Where are youse guys when we need ya?" Most of what I know about these subjects is due to their posts when I was a fresh face, hereabouts.

I know some of this will be "old hat" to the "Old Hands" here, but they were invaluable founts of facts and sources on this topic. And for the "newbies" a great example of what can be mined from the archives. This was also a selfish opportunity for me, to go thru some of their posts to "steal" and file some of their sourced links for future opportunistic use. :smile: If I don't go into lazy mode that is.

So, using my limited search skills I found a list of what could be termed their "Greatest Hits" from each and one post I selected for, what I believe, to be its relevance to this thread, and will post that link; with a brief paste from it.

James B White search: https://civilwartalk.com/threadloom/search?query=slavery, abolitionists user:"James B White"&tab=207

From Disposing of Unprofitable Slaves (It seems I missed this one the first time)

Stroud also has a section on laws concerning the murder of slaves, but doesn't mention them being killed for unprofitability. He focusses mostly on what he perceives as most common, murder due to "correction."https://books.google.com/books?id=HW0TAQAAMAAJ&pg=P***

On p. 62 he mentions an early South Carolina law against murdering slaves that gives some insight into the morality, talking about: "cruelty is not only highly unbecoming those who profess themselves Christians, but is odious in the eyes of all men who have any sense of virtue or humanity,—to restrain and prevent barbarity being exercised towards slaves..." etc. etc.

Here's an example of abandonment:

"Forty-three Monroe County [Mississippi] residents ask that Jasper A. McQuery be compensated for the upkeep and support of an abandoned, insane black girl who was brought to the county in February 1829 and left by an unknown person. The girl was 'incapable of laboring for her support and is an object of the greatest pity.' They also request the legislature 'to make some permanent provision for like cases in the future.' "

That was in 1830, but in 1831

"The petitioners ask that John Thompson be compensated for caring for a young female slave named Mary Ann. They state that Jasper McQuarey refused to care for the woman any longer and that John Thompson has agreed to assume the responsibility. Mary Ann is 'a perfect ediot,' they explain, and 'the laws of humanity enjoin that she should not be permitted to perrish.' "

Apparently euthanasia wasn't an option. For all the cruelty inflicted upon slaves and reported by appalled neighbors or visitors to abolitionist newspapers, as well as mentioned positively or negatively in southern sources, the killing of unprofitable slaves is not mentioned.
https://civilwartalk.com/threads/disposing-of-unprofitable-slaves.124131/#post-1322830
brass napoleon: https://civilwartalk.com/threadloom... user:"brass napoleon,brass napoleon"&tab=207
I have a special fondness for brass :cannon:, and not only miss him for his knowledge, but he also possessed an uncanny ability to "get" my attempts at humor, well...once in while, anyway.

From Were Abolitionists Also Nativists?

Hinton Helper, who was just mentioned above, is a perfect example of this. He was an inveterate racist who opposed slavery not on moral grounds, but on economic grounds. He wrote an entire book on the subject. Here's an excerpt that kind of sums it up:

And now to the point. In our opinion, an opinion which has been formed from data obtained by assiduous researches, and comparisons, from laborious investigation, logical reasoning, and earnest reflection, the causes which have impeded the progress and prosperity of the South, which have dwindled our commerce, and other similar pursuits, into the most contemptible insignificance; sunk a large majority of our people in galling poverty and ignorance, rendered a small minority conceited and tyrannical, and driven the rest away from their homes; entailed upon us a humiliating dependence on the Free States; disgraced us in the recesses of our own souls, and brought us under reproach in the eyes of all civilized and enlightened nations--may all be traced to one common source, and there find solution in the most hateful and horrible word, that was ever incorporated into the vocabulary of human economy--Slavery!

- Hinton R. Helper, The Impending Crisis of the South
You can see the whole thing here (and I reiterate, Helper was NOT an abolitionist):
http://docsouth.unc.edu/nc/helper/helper.html

A large number of working-class Americans, including many Irish immigrants, also opposed slavery on the economic grounds that it would devalue their own labor and potentially put them out of work.

"Hindsight - the historian's chief asset and his main liability" - David M. Potter
His signature, Yep, right again brass.

https://civilwartalk.com/threads/were-abolitionists-also-nativists.135596/#post-1565959

 

JPK Huson 1863

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brass napoleon: https://civilwartalk.com/threadloom... user:"brass napoleon,brass napoleon"&tab=207
I have a special fondness for brass :cannon:, and not only miss him for his knowledge, but he also possessed an uncanny ability to "get" my attempts at humor, well...once in while, anyway.


Thank you! And for bringing in James B. Unlike you, I do not have this stuff ' down '- for Heaven's sake do not anyone here go anywhere, please! Those of us still in the bleachers on these threads ( cannot be the only lurker ) lost those two, too. By ' still in the bleacher ', it means taking notes in the grade school section.

Still, if one of we first graders out here got up enough nerve to ask a question, both of them were kind enough to draw pictures, as it were. Thanks for posting those links.

Sorry for the interruption, , back to the bleachers.
 

O' Be Joyful

Sergeant Major
Thank you! And for bringing in James B. Unlike you, I do not have this stuff ' down '- for Heaven's sake do not anyone here go anywhere, please! Those of us still in the bleachers on these threads ( cannot be the only lurker ) lost those two, too. By ' still in the bleacher ', it means taking notes in the grade school section.

Still, if one of we first graders out here got up enough nerve to ask a question, both of them were kind enough to draw pictures, as it were. Thanks for posting those links.

Sorry for the interruption, , back to the bleachers.

It is both :smile: / :frown: Yes, and your welcome JPK, it was my pleasure.

Edit and in no way do I claim to have it down, what little I know started with them and others here. Thinking of @ForeverFree & @Pat Young as two examples of those at present.
 
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saddlebum92

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Location
Nevada
Thanks for this post!

Can you explain "shortstopping" and how it worked?

Baltimore was a very large slave trading location. Do you know how they (runaways) would have been able to hide out there? Any accounts you know of that hid or ran to Baltimore via the UGR?

Also, is it true that she killed a child? Or just fiction?

My use of the Word "Shortstopping" is just to say the runaways were not delivered to their intended destinations, but instead were returned to slavery, via monetary exchange. Possibly they were run into Delaware, where they would be shipped South.
As far as hiding slaves in Baltimore is concerned, I have no special information, but a major trading center would be a likely place to " hide in plain sight". After all, many white people paid next to no attention to slaves. If they had, I suspect slavery would never have gotten a grip on this Country. Out in the Bush, a runaway would have stood out like a sore thumb, and had to face the" paterollers", law enforcement and stray Rebel Soldiers at times, all of which would be suspicious. Easier in the City....There are books on the subject.
Concerning specific Cannon misdeeds, I know nothing much except that there were a number of sets of shackles found in the house, and in the barns on the property, which is not much more than ten miles from the Delaware line.... that should have meant Freedom, but did not. That would be a subject for another thread, I think.
 

John S. Carter

Sergeant Major
Joined
Mar 15, 2017
Just an FYI. The numero uno slave traders par excellance were the Portuguesa. With the Canary Islands and the Azores as jumping points they far outdid any other European country hands down. The African slave trade, east and west coast, is now considered a "Holocaust" of the first magnitude. The Portuguese were major players.

American slave traders were also famous American "heroes" like Jim Bowie, Lafite (the pirate & helper at the Battle of NO) and Alexander Hamilton of $10 fame whose. mama was not "white".

Patty Canon intrigues me the most. Trying to find more info on her. Operated on the Mason-Dixon line. Any human who wasn't white and got in her sites was bound for slavery.
On Hamilton,would you please to provide information as to that statement.Did it come from the musical 'Hamilton"?
 

cash

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Right here.
On Hamilton,would you please to provide information as to that statement.Did it come from the musical 'Hamilton"?

At the age of 14, Hamilton, orphaned and supporting himself, was hired as a clerk for Beekman & Cruger, an import/export firm on St. Croix. Part of their business included importing enslaved people. I've seen no evidence of Hamilton being a slave trader as an adult.
 
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