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National Archives & Records Administration [111-B-667]

On the River

The Mississippi River looms large in the history of the domestic slave trade. Slaves were quite literally sold "quot;down the river"quot; to large plantation holders in the Deep South, whose profitable cotton fields required enormous amounts of labor. But the Mississippi River could also be a lifeline for free people of color and runaways who sought sanctuary in the Northern states. Many migrants made their way north by steamboat.

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