Slavery Separated Families

By James Pylant

The separation of families was another cruel facet in the world of slave trading. An enslaved woman's infant was sometimes viewed as a hindrance to her sale. In one instance, a slave trader was about to start from Louisville, Kentucky, with 100 slaves for New Orleans. Among them were two women who were nursing infants. The trader felt that these babies would depreciate the value of the mothers, so he sold them for one dollar each. In Nashville, another slave trader, while transporting slaves via steamboat to New Orleans, grew impatient with a mother carrying her ten month-old baby. She could not keep pace with the other slaves, so the trader snatched the infant from her arms and handed it as a gift to someone standing nearby. The mother was quickly hustled on-board as if nothing had happened.

From The Anti-Slavery Record, Vol. I (May, 1835), No. 5, pp. 51-52.

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