The Interstate Slave Trade Essay

The Interstate Slave Trade Essay

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Between 1790 and 1860 there were just about one million enslaved men, women, and children who were traded over state lines. The author of A Troublesome Commerce says the worst of the interstate slave trade started after there was a push for economic improvement in the South as they had to compete with the North’s thriving industry. Slave traders formed business partnerships to acquire and sell slaves, but this interstate labor market existed and functioned solely for the purpose of taking in a profit. The way they conducted their business in handling the slaves included an immediate separation of husbands from their wives and mothers from their children. There were many consequences of the interstate slave trade, but it can be argued that the most relevant were the separation of families and the manner in which slaves were sold. By following the lives of Thomas H. Jones, Friday Jones, and William Hayden, one could gain insight into the trials and tribulations of this time period such as the separation of families and the treatment of auctioned slaves.
Thomas Jones wrote a record of his experience being enslaved for forty-three years, beginning at age eight. Born into slavery, he only got to spend nine years of his life at the same plantation as his parents. His mother and father did everything they could to make life for him and his five siblings a little easier and more bearable for the little time they had. They protected them as much as they could but they lived in constant fear of the day where their children would be taken from them and sold off to “the dreaded slave-trader”. Jones claimed slave parents devoted so much time to cherishing their children because they were the only important thing they had in life, other than...


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...her’s smiles were decreed to welcome me—no maternal words to soothe my pains, no kind and long known home to yield me sustenance and repose—naught but the clanking chains of slavery—the roof of a stranger, and my own sad reflections were meted out to me.”
A disturbing time period in history, the interstate slave trade spanned nearly 70 years, and in this time, countless families were ripped apart and human beings were sold like cattle for a pittance. The background of the business deals and the way slave were held captive like prisoners before auction was an abomination. The slave trade was a traumatizing event for those who were not functioning on the business side of the trend. Not only did African Americans have to endure this lifelong servitude to their Caucasian counterpart but the abuse and deprivation of basic human rights tied right into their transactions.

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