For decades before the Civil War, Lexington was the center of the slave trade in Kentucky. The African Americans who were offered for auction faced frightening uncertainty. Slave auctions were often cataclysmic events for the men, women and children who were sold. Sales could shatter families and rip an individual away from the lives and communities they knew. No enslaved person was immune from the possibility of sale and the auction block at Cheapside was the spot where this fear became a reality for thousands of Kentuckians. Slave sales resulted from a variety of circumstances. In other instances, sales followed the death of their enslaver, if the enslaved were not willed directly to their next owner. Slave sales were a common, every day, aspect of life in Lexington during the antebellum years, yet their frequency should not obscure the magnitude of each event for the enslaved people touched by it.
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On a cold day in mid-January , members of the Charlottesville community made their way to Monticello to attend the estate sale of Thomas Jefferson. Poor financial decisions, inadequate agricultural income, a financial panic, and a lavish lifestyle led to this moment. As was customary at the time, Jefferson's debt became the responsibility of his heirs—and a living nightmare for the men, women, and children held in bondage who knew they would be sold to cover that debt.
This postcard from depicts an African American woman standing on the St. The lot at the corner of St. Louis and Chartres Streets played one of the longest and most involved roles in the New Orleans slave market. First serving as a coffeehouse that served as a gathering spot for men to talk politics, socialize, imbibe, make business deals, and purchase slaves, it would become the new St. Louis Exchange Hotel in The hotel spanned the entire block lining St. Louis Street between Chartres and Royal. Known for its modern, luxurious accommodations and its architectural beauty, the hotel hosted a cosmopolitan and international crowd. The St.