Slaves for Sale: 1850s-1860s
An excerpt from the Civil War chapter of Primary Sources for the Interactive Whiteboard (Grades 4–8) by Karen Baicker
Pictured below are tags assigned to enslaved people of African descent in Charleston, South Carolina. The tags were worn by those who were rented by their owners to other employers. Each tag listed the enslaved person’s number, skill (e.g. porter, servant, mechanic), and the year in which the tag was issued. After 1848, free blacks in Charleston also had to wear tags showing their status. Tags were used only in the Charleston area. Other marks of slave ownership, including branding, were frequently used in the South.
Broadsides were large sheets of paper used as news articles, announcements, or advertisements. This broadside announces an auction prompted by a slave owner’s death. The price for each slave was determined by age, gender, skill, and the number of his or her physical infirmities. The price also took into account what the owner paid for him or her originally. At the bottom of the poster, the statement “Slaves will be sold separate, or in los, as best suits the purchaser,” indicates a willingness by the owner’s heirs to split up slave families. Posters like this were common in the South.
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Primary Sources for the Interactive Whiteboard:Slaves for Sale:1850s–1860s
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Use the interactive tools to explore these artifacts of slavery, including slave tags and a slave auction broadside.
1. Look at the Slaves for Sale artifacts together and discuss what they reveal about how slaves were treated.
2. Click on the Slave Tags tab to examine the tags more closely and to share the background information above.
3. Click the Slave Auction tab to explore a notice listing a deceased slave owner’s slaves. Point out the notes made under “Qualification.” Share that slaves were often sold individually to slave owners looking for people with specific skills. Ask students to infer what that meant for families, which are listed in groups here.
Use the Magnifier to examine the slave tags closely. Have students identify the locatin, identification number, name, and year on both tags.
Use the Magnifier and Highlighter tools to explore the relationship of age to price listed. Look at the qualifications and explore how they relate to the price as well.
More Activities From Primary Sources For The Interactive Whiteboard
Civil War Time Line
Interactive Map of the Civil War
About The Book
Primary Sources for the Interactive Whiteboard (Grades 6–8), by Karen Baicker, features more than 60 whiteboard-ready documents with background information, guiding questions, and interactive activities to help students gain a deeper understanding of history. It includes maps, journals, political cartoons, newspaper articles, photographs, advertisements, and more, bringing Colonial America, Westward Movement, and Civil War to life for your students. Includes a CD with Promethean ActivInspire files. Copyright © 2011 by Karen Baicker.
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