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Opening Reception For Purchased Lives: New Orleans and the Domestic Slave Trade, 1808-1865

  • National Civil Rights Museum 450 Mulberry Street Memphis, TN, 38103 United States (map)

In 1808, America abolished the international slave trade, ending the export of people from the African continent to the Americas. The domestic slave trade, however— the buying and selling of slaves within the U.S.—continued until the close of the Civil War in 1865. 

During those 57 years between 1808 and 1865, an estimated one million people found themselves at the center of a forced migration that wrought havoc on the lives of enslaved families, as owners and traders in the Upper South—Maryland, North Carolina, Virginia, and Washington, DC—sold and shipped surplus laborers to the expanding Lower South—Alabama, Florida, Louisiana, Mississippi, and Texas. Many of those individuals passed through New Orleans, which was the largest slave market in antebellum America.

The exhibition Purchased Lives: New Orleans and the Domestic Slave Trade examined the individuals involved in the trade and considers New Orleans’s role in this era of U.S. history. Erin M. Greenwald, a historian at The Historic New Orleans Collection, curated the display, which included period broadsides, paintings, and prints illustrating the domestic slave trade, ship manifests, and first-person accounts from slave narratives and oral histories.

Aside from the exhibit reception, this exhibition is showing from September 12–November 27 in the Museum's State of Tennessee Gallery and included with admission.

The reception will also be held in the State of Tennessee Gallery.