Slave Auction Block

Slave Auction Block (HM1CHY)

Location: Wheeling, WV 26003 Ohio County
Country: United States of America

N 40° 4.226', W 80° 43.393'

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"Sold down river"

Although the residents of the western part of Virginia owned far fewer slaves than their counterparts to the east, antebellum Wheeling was part of the social and political fabric of slaveholding Virginia. A slave-auction block stood at the northwestern corner of the Second Ward market house here. Judge John Cochran described it in his book, Bonnie Belmont. In 1855, he wrote, "a wooden movable platform about two and a half feet high and six feed square, approached by some three or four steps. The auctioneer was a little dapper fellow with a ringing voice. Not a very large crowd was surrounding the auction block. On top of it was a portly and rather aged negress and the auctioneer." Such scenes increased the opposition to slavery here.

The antebellum Deep South had an insatiable need for slave labor for the cotton plantations there. Virginia, America's largest slaveholding state, exported half a million slaves to points south and west. Wheeling was part of that network, the destination of the overland route from Baltimore to the Ohio River and then to slave markets in Charleston (present-day West Virginia), Kentucky, and along the Mississippi River. Coffles of shackled slaves passed through Wheeling on the National Road and later were transported by railroad to be "sold down river." Held in pens nearby, slaves sometimes escaped and the assistance of conductors on the Underground Railroad based in Martins Ferry, Ohio. Opposition to the slave trade here eventually rerouted much of the traffic east to Alexandria.
Series This marker is part of the West Virginia Civil War Trails series
Placed ByWest Virginia Civil War Trails
Marker ConditionNo reports yet
Date Added Wednesday, October 1st, 2014 at 12:13pm PDT -07:00
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Locationbig map
UTM (WGS84 Datum)17T E 523601 N 4435611
Decimal Degrees40.07043333, -80.72321667
Degrees and Decimal MinutesN 40° 4.226', W 80° 43.393'
Degrees, Minutes and Seconds40° 4' 13.56" N, 80° 43' 23.58" W
Driving DirectionsGoogle Maps
Area Code(s)304, 740
Closest Postal AddressAt or near 26-32 10th St, Wheeling WV 26003, US
Alternative Maps Google Maps, MapQuest, Bing Maps, Yahoo Maps, MSR Maps, OpenCycleMap, MyTopo Maps, OpenStreetMap

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