The Domestic Slave Trade transported over 1 million people to the Deep South and West. This internal trade separated families on an even larger scale than did the African Slave Trade a century earlier.
We can learn more about this trade at the Schomburg’s Migrations website. It also includes information about all of the other migrations that black people experienced. The website is detailed, fact filled and visually beautifully.
I encourage you to take some time examining it. One could spend hours pouring over the histories, pictures and maps. I’m going to highlight just a few of my favorites.
The Domestic Slave Trade
With the official close of the African Slave Trade in 1808, enslaved families were torn apart as they were sold south and west. Remember that many of these people were by then 2nd or 3rd generation born.
That is, Africans had become African-Americans.
One map shows the relative numbers of slaves sold while the second map shows the transportation routes used. Notice that states in green had net gains while states in red had net losses in numbers of slaves:
We often focus on slavery in the southern states and forget that it was in the Chesapeake that slavery was born in North America. It was old and tired there by the time of the rise of cotton that happened in the deeper South in the mid-1800s.
It’s a point worth remembering: southern and western slave states and territories were filled with slaves bought from the Chesapeake. Many of our ancestors who were living in Alabama, Georgia, Louisiana, South Carolina, etc., in 1870 had their roots in Virginia or Maryland. We can see that by their 1870 census birthplaces.
Other Maps of Interest
Another map I like shows the African-American enslaved population in the original 13 colonies. It changed rapidly in the late 17th and early 18th century.
Not surprisingly, Virginia and Maryland had the highest numbers:
Other maps of interest include this one which shows areas with large concentrations of free blacks:
And I really enjoyed seeing these maps of African Kingdoms:
And Africa before European colonialism:
Almost the entire northern hemisphere is Islamic.
I think it’s important in our research to place our ancestor into the broader context of these migratory experiences. The Schomburg’s website can help us to do just that.
PS: NARA has released a new Freedmens Bureau finding aid that is the most detailed I’ve seen. Also, there’s an interesting new online genealogy magazine called The In-Depth Genealogist. Check it out.
I am an engineer by day, but my true passion lies in genealogy. I have been a researcher, writer, lecturer and teacher for over twenty years. This blog is where I share family history methods, resources, tips and advice, with an emphasis on slave research, slavery and its aftermath. This lifelong quest has helped me to better know my family’s past. I’ve taken back– reclaimed– some of that lost memory, especially that of my enslaved ancestors. I hope you’ll sign up to receive my posts—if you do, you’ll get a free PDF with some of my favorite tips! And please do share posts that interest you.