Frederick Douglass gave one of his most powerfullest speeches in Halifax England 1859 in that speech he spoke on The Domestic Slave Trade in Richmond VA the Epicenter of the slave trade , he describes the connection of Christianity , Preaching and Churches nearby the slave jails in shockoe bottom he said the blacks enslaved in those jails were being tortured and murdered so bad that their moans could be heard so loud but at the same time you could hear the preachers in the churches preaching at the same time these tyrannical acts were being carried out on the Ancestors it shows the contradiction of the religious morals of Most who were involved in the Slave trade.

Shockoe Bottom, an eight-block area of downtown Richmond, Virginia, was once the second largest center of the U.S. slave trade. Between 1830 and 1865, an estimated 350,000 people were sold into slavery there.

A Forgotten History

There are no former slave markets or jails left standing in Shockoe Bottom today. Structures associated with the slave trade were destroyed or repurposed after the Civil War, converted into factories and warehouses for Richmond’s burgeoning tobacco industry. Then the construction of railroads and highways dumped additional layers of fill dirt on the space, before the land was cleared for its current patchwork of parking lots. After decades of neglect, the history of Richmond’s slave trade is buried, both in memory and in fact.

Richmond has actually done a better job than most of commemorating the history of the slave trade. The city established a Slave Trail Commission in 1998, which created a public walking path retracing the steps of enslaved Africans.In the decades prior to the American Civil War, as many as two million enslaved African Americans were sold and often relocated through the domestic slave trade. The two largest slave markets of the 1850s, Richmond, Virginia, and New Orleans, Louisiana, both developed significant architectural and economic infrastructure that supported the trade.


To the east at the dock, which is a 600-foot long row of massive limestone blocks set a dozen feet above the sluggish green-black river, slave ships in the late 1700s unloaded their cargos: newly captured Africans. Chained at the neck and legs, the slaves would be marched along the path we were walking to the slave jails — moved at night so as to not “offend citizens with the horror of their oozing sores, filth and stench from the slave ships.” For the 30 years before the Civil War, Richmond was the largest source of slaves on the East Coast.

From the 1820s until the war, slaves walked the path in the other direction, from holding facilities in Shockoe Bottom across the river to Manchester docks, as Richmond shipped ‘surplus” slaves to markets farther south for resale to the huge sugar and cotton plantations after the tobacco economy hit a slump. By 1859 half a million slaves had been sold from Virginia to the Deep South, with more in 1854 than any other year, as many as 10,000 a month.


Drive west on 15th Street and turn right on East Main to Shockoe Bottom (the original Powhatan name for the area), where auction houses once sold human “goods” as well as corn, coffee and other commodities. The roughly 30-block area (bounded by Broad, 15th and 19th streets and the river) was the regional center for the slave trade, with four main dealers each with a jail-like compound surrounded by fences made of upright sharpened logs.

The “largest and most fearsome” was Lumpkin’s Jail on 15th Street, better known as “the Devil’s Half Acre.” Owner Robert Lumpkin had “maximized his profits” by including a residence for his family and lodging for slave traders along with the slave-holding facility and auction house.


Cobblestone streets led from this “geographical heart of the slave trading district, 1852-1863,” with some 50 slave-holding facilities, to fashionable hotels where dealers had offices and buyers rented upstairs rooms, a placard reads. Red flags would be raised over the roof of such fine establishments as the Bell, Exchange and Ballard hotels when an auction was to take place.


Two years after the Civil War ended, in 1867, Mary Ann Lumpkin, a black woman who was Robert’s widow, with the help of white abolitionist Nathanial Colver, a Boston minister, turned the complex into a school for former slaves. It later became Virginia Union University.

At the corner of Main and 15th streets stands the Reconciliation Triangle, a memorial unveiled in 2007 to the British, African and American “triangular” trade route. Traders delivered more than 100,000 Africans to Virginia between the 17th century and American Revolution, and at least 260,000 more elsewhere in North America before 1808.

The “triangle” extended between Liverpool and other large British cities, Benin and other West African kingdoms, and Virginia and other North American colonies (similar statues also stand today in Liverpool and Benin).

14th Annual Gabriel Prosser Forum Shockoe Bottom Slave Trade – Haki Kweli Shakur x Kunta Kinte

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