There were several dozen such houses in Shockoe Bottom, typically selling human “goods” along with corn, coffee, and other commodities. Some sales were part of a larger business; other auctioneers dealt exclusively in slaves. Most slave commerce was concentrated in the roughly 30-block area bounded by Broad, 15th, and 19th Streets and the river. Davenport & Co., located at 15th and Cary streets, was an auction house near the center of the district; portions of the building survived Civil War destruction and are now a part of the present building. Located here along with the auction houses were holding pens, slave jails, and lodging for slave traders. White Richmonders generally ignored slave sales or accepted them as “normal.”
New York Daily Tribune, March 8, 1859 reprinted in Hart, Albert B., American History Told by Contemporaries v. 4 (19280>
“So Molly was put through her paces, and compelled to trot up and down along the stage, to go up and down the steps, and to exercise her feet in various ways, but always with the same result, the left foot would be lame. She was finally sold for $695. [equivalent to approximately $15,300 in 2005 dollars]
Whether she really was lame or not, no one knows but herself, but it must be remembered that to a slave a lameness, or anything that decreases his market value, is a thing to be rejoiced over. A man in the prime of life, worth $1,600 [equivalent to approximately $35,200 in 2005 dollars] or thereabouts, can have little hope of ever being able, by any little savings of his own, to purchase his liberty. But, let him have a rupture, or lose a limb, or sustain any other injury that renders him of much less service to his owner, and reduces his value to $300 or $400, and he may hope to accumulate that sum, and eventually to purchase his liberty. Freedom without health is infinitely sweeter than health without freedom.
And so the Great Sale went on for two long days, during which time there were sold 429 men, women and children. There were 436 announced to be sold, but a few were detained on the plantations by sickness… The total amount of the sale foots up $308, 850.” [equivalent to approximately $6,700,000 in 2005 dollars]”
“Slave Auction, 1859,” Eye Witness to History, http://www.eyewitnesstohistory.com (2005).
About the Trail
Designed as a walking path, the Richmond Slave Trail chronicles the history of the trade in enslaved Africans from their homeland to Virginia until 1778, and away from Virginia, especially Richmond, to other locations in the Americas until 1865. The trail begins at the Manchester Docks, which, alongside Rocketts Landing on the north side of the river, operated as a major port in the massive downriver slave trade, making Richmond the largest source of enslaved blacks on the east coast of America from 1830 to 1860. While many of the slaves were shipped on to New Orleans and to other Deep South ports, the trail follows the footsteps of those who remained here and crossed the James River, often chained together in a coffle. Once reaching the northern riverbank, the trail then follows a route through the slave markets and auction houses of Richmond, beside the Reconciliation Statue commemorating the international triangular slave trade and on to the site of the notorious Lumpkin’s Slave Jail and leading on to Richmond’s African Burial Ground, once called the Burial Ground for Negroes, and the First African Baptist Church, a center of African American life in pre-Civil War Richmond. – Richmond Slave Trail Commission – 2011 –Title image: “After the Sale: Slaves Going South”, 1853, Painted from live by Eyre Crowe, courtesy the Chicago History Museum
Erected 2011 by Richmond Slave Trail Commission.
Location. 37° 32.015′ N, 77° 25.873′ W. Marker is in Richmond, Virginia. Marker is at the intersection of South 15th Street and East Cary Street, on the right when traveling north on South 15th Street. Click for map. Marker is in this post office area: Richmond VA 23219, United States of America.
Other nearby markers. At least 8 other markers are within walking distance of this marker. Slave Auction Site (about 400 feet away, in a direct line); Shockoe Slip (about 400 feet away); Triple Crossing (about 400 feet away); Burnt District (about 500 feet away); Bell Tavern (about 500 feet away); Reconciliation Statue (about 500 feet away); Kanawha Canal (about 500 feet away); Early Shockoe (about 500 feet away). Click for a list of all markers in Richmond.
Also see . . . 1. Old Marker at this Location. This marker replaced an older one at this location titled “Davenport Trading Company” (Submittedon April 19, 2011, by Bernard Fisher of
2. Richmond City Council Slave Trail Commission. (Submitted on April 19, 2011, by Bernard
Fisher of Mechanicsville, Virginia.)
Credits. This page originally submitted on April 19, 2011, by Bernard Fisher of Mechanicsville, Virginia. This page has been viewed 809 times since then. Photos: 1, 2, 3, 4. submitted on April 19, 2011, by Bernard Fisher of Mechanicsville, Virginia.