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Buying and Selling Slaves

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BALLARD CO. (J.R. Wilkerson) [HW: Ky 7]

[Tinie Force and Elvira Lewis:]

During the period of slavery in the Purchase Region, buying and selling slaves was carried on at irregular intervals. The trading usually took place at the home of the slave owner. The prices paid for slaves was dependent upon certain conditions. In case of a full grown, robust negro boy the price was sometimes as much as one thousand dollars. The prices paid was varied according to the age, the general health and other conditions of the individual.

At times pathetic scenes prevailed in the selling of slaves; namely, the separation of mother and child. Often, a boy or girl would be sold and taken away from his or her mother. In many cases the parting would be permanent and the child and its mother would never see each other again.

The slave owner maintained separate housing quarters for his slaves. In some cases the living quarters of slaves was comfortable and agreeable; in other cases, living conditions of slaves was anything but agreeable; Some masters were reasonably gentle to their slaves, while others were cruel.

One of the saddest, darkest and most pathetic conditions that existed during the period of slavery was the intimate mingling of slave owners, in fact many white men, with negro women. It has become known that very often a slave was sold who was the direct offspring of his or her owner. This practice prevailed to some extent in the Purchase Region, but was not universal. When the emancipation proclamation became effective and the slaves were given freedom, some of them prefered to remain with their masters, while others started out into the world for themselves. Very often, some of the slaves, who had anticipated that liberty meant more to them than anything else, and who went out into the cold world of indifference, soon returned to their old masters. They found that their former home was a much better place to abode than anything outside of it.


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