Episode 312: The Domestic Slave Trade

The transatlantic slave trade dominated in North America during the 17th and 18th centuries. But by 1808, a different slave trade came to dominate in the young United States, the domestic or internal slave trade.

Joshua D. Rothman, an award-winning historian, Professor of History at the University of Alabama, and author of the book, The Ledger and the Chain: How Domestic Slave Traders Shaped America, leads us on an exploration of the United States’ domestic slave trade and the lives of three slave traders who helped to define this trade.

About the Show

Ben Franklin’s World is a podcast about early American history.

It is a show for people who love history and for those who want to know more about the historical people and events that have impacted and shaped our present-day world.

Ben Franklin’s World is a production of the Omohundro Institute.

Episode Summary

Joshua D. Rothman, an award-winning historian and author of the book , joins us to investigate the United States’ domestic or internal slave trade.

During our investigation, Josh reveals the long history of North America’s domestic or internal slave trade; How and why the United States Congress passed a ban on the international or transatlantic slave trade in 1808; And, how the 1808-ban on the international slave trade allowed the domestic slave trade to grow, develop, and emerge as a profitable business in the nineteenth century.

What You’ll Discover

  • Overview of the domestic slave trade
  • Enslaved people as assets to be traded
  • Colonial period domestic slave trade
  • Congressional ban on the international slave trade in 1808
  • Isaac Franklin, John Armfield, Rice Ballard–Domestic Slave Traders
  • Business of the domestic slave trade
  • Success of Franklin & Armfield firm
  • Places of the domestic slave trade
  • Domestic slave trade in Washington, D.C.
  • Experiences of the enslaved in the domestic slave trade
  • Slave traders’ ideas and remorse about their business
  • Women and the domestic slave trade
  • End of the domestic slave trade in the United States
  • Legacy of the domestic slave trade in U.S. society

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Time Warp PlainTime Warp Question

In your opinion, what might have happened if Congress had not banned the importation of enslaved Africans in 1808? How might the trajectory of the 19th-century domestic slave trade have been different?

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