Richmond Slave Trail
"I had noticed the bad condition of this gang several times on the road, the poor wretches being travel-worn and half starved, and having large sores caused by their loads and the blows and cuts they received. The ropes that confined them were also, in some instances, eating into their flesh. And I saw one woman still carrying the infant that had died in her arms of starvation."
Verney Lovett Cameron, Commander in the Royal Navy
"The women were merely tied together with a rope, about the size of a bed cord, which was tied like a halter round the neck of each; but the men, of whom I was the stoutest and the strongest, were very differently caparisoned. A strong iron collar was closely fitted by means of a padlock round each of our necks. A chain of iron about a hundred feet in length was passed through the hasp of the padlock, except at the two ends, where the hasps of each padlock passed through a link of the chain. In addition to this, we were handcuffed in pairs. In this manner, we were chained alternately by the right and left hand; and the poor man to whom I was thus ironed wept like an infant when the blacksmith with his heavy hammer, fastened the ends of the bolts that kept the staples from slipping from our arms. For my own part, I felt indifferent to my fate. It appeared to me that the worst had come that would come, and that no change of fortune would harm me."
Narrative of the Life and Adventures of Charles Ball, a Black Man
3rd edition (Pittsburgh, 1854)
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