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Inhuman trafficking

Slavery was the economic linchpin of several states in the American South before its abolition in 1865 following that country’s bloody civil war (War of Secession). Slaves had been kidnapped in Africa and subjected to inhumane treatment.

Engraving of the deck of a ship where dazed black slaves cling together.

Slaves leave Africa crammed onto slave ships; many die on the way.


An engraving of slaves working.

Slaves were used as labor for the large cotton plantations in the American South.


A family of slaves is photographed in front of the ramshackle hut where they live

Slaves were crammed together in rudimentary dwellings called shacks.


For their owners, slaves are commodities that they can buy, sell or even kill if they should rebel or try to escape.

On the left, an announcement of a public auction for the sale of 440 slaves; in the center, an offer to purchase slaves at a price ranging from $1,200 to $1,250 each; and on the right, a wanted notice offering a $400 bounty for the capture, dead or alive, of a slave named George.

Whether holding an auction, making an offer to buy, or circulating a wanted poster, these media advertisements leave no doubt that slaves were considered their owners’ property.