The displacement of enslaved men, women, and children continued, despite
much disruption, until near the very end of the Civil War, although exportation
from Maryland, Missouri, Kentucky, and Delaware - all remained in the Union - was
significantly reduced. Prices, expressed in constant dollars, rather than
the highly inflated Confederate currency, declined dramatically. When
New Orleans fell in 1862, a major urban market was lost to the trade.
were nothing if not resourceful. Henry Badgett had been moving people
from North Carolina to Georgia since the 1840s and was still reporting
good profits in 1863. In Savannah, one leading trader described by contemporaries
as "a bitter old rebel" did not evacuate his "human stock"
until General Shermans army approached the city in December 1864.
In Virginia, the Omohundro brothers, Silas and R. F., supplied people
to traders operating out of Richmond until at least 1863, as did the auctioneer,
Hector Davis. In late 1863, E. H. Stokes was still buying people in Virginia
and selling them in Georgia. But the dubious distinction of dancing the terrible institutions last waltz probably belongs to veteran trader Robert
Lumpkin. In April 1865, Charles Carleton Coffin, traveling with the advancing
Union Army days before the fall of Richmond, found Lumpkin "shipping
out fifty men, women and children. This sad and weeping fifty, in handcuffs
and chains were [he declared] the last slave
that ever shall tread the soil of America."
Ironically, the greatest significance of the trade was, in the long term,
positive. This inhuman traffic did not succeed in crushing its victims.
The enslaved were not just victims but people who resisted.
They clung to a sense of family and developed life-saving and heritage-preserving
coping devices against a hostile white world. They learned to value themselves
and their families in a society that looked upon them with loathing.
And they learned to build a community that would grow into an extraordinarily
dynamic and creative force in the nation through which they were moved