Slave purchase notice, 1835

The price for a "prime field hand," which was $900 in 1810, rose to $1800 by 1860. Of the 2.3 million blacks in the United States in 1830, almost 90% were slaves.

Source: Library of Congress, An American Time Capsule: Three Centuries of Broadsides and Other Printed Ephemera
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Abraham Lincoln notes on African slave trade

Notes by Lincoln for speech to Springfield IL branch of American Colonization Society, a group interested in giving free African Americans greater freedom by returning them to Africa. This speech was given five years before Lincoln was elected president.

Abraham Lincoln, January 4, 1855 (Notes on the history of the African slave trade)

Source: Library of Congress: Abraham Lincoln Papers
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Transcription:
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Distribution of slaves, 1860

In 1860, there were some 4 million slaves in the U.S., 14% of the total population. On this map, the shades of gray correspond to the percentage of slaves in each county.

Map showing the distribution of the slave population of the southern states of the United States. Compiled from the census of 1860. Drawn by E. Hergesheimer. Engr. by Th. Leonhardt.

Source: Library of Congress: Geography and Map Division
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Recollections of slavery, Charles Crawley

1937 interview of ex-slave Charles Crawley of Virginia. One of the two thousand Slave Narratives written down in the 1930s as part of a federal works project, the Federal Writers' Project.

Source: Library of Congress: Born in Slavery: Slave Narratives from the Federal Writers' Project, 1936-1938
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Slave Pen, Alexandria VA

Photograph from the 1860s showing cells where slaves were held before being sold.

Source: Library of Congress: Prints and Photographs Division
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Broadside to end slave trade in Washington DC

As is clear from this broadside (flyer), one of the key goals of abolitionists was to end the slave trade in the nation's capital. So Congress's ending it in 1850 was viewed as an important statement of congressional intent because, although Congress had limited control of the states, it was in charge of Washington DC.

Source: Library of Congress: Prints and Photographs Division
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An American Time Capsule:
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Plan for helping slaves escape, Frederick Douglass to Abraham Lincoln, August 29, 1864

When Lincoln was uncertain about his chances of re-election and being able to continue his fight to end slavery, he asked Frederick Douglass to develop a plan to help slaves escape from Confederate states in large numbers.

Source: Library of Congress: Prints and Photographs Division; Abraham Lincoln Papers
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Transcription
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Song, "Don't Take Me Back to Slavery"

Song written by popular American songwriters William Dever and John Braham in 1878. But numerous religious and work songs were developed by slaves, many of which were "coded," containing, for example, hidden criticisms of their white masters or directions on how to escape on the Underground Railroad.

"Don't take me back to slavery": song and chorus/ words by William B. Dever; music by John Braham.

Source: Library of Congress: African-American Sheet Music, 1850-1920: Selected from the Collections of Brown University,
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Recollections of Slavery, Mrs. Minnie Fulkes

1937 Slave Narrative interview of ex-slave Minnie Fulkes of Virginia.

Source: Library of Congress: Born in Slavery: Slave Narratives from the Federal Writers' Project, 1936-1938
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Cumberland Landing, Va. Group of "contrabands" at Foller's house

Union General Benjamin Butler of Massachusetts ruled that any slaves coming into the Union's possession during the war would be considered "contraband of war," and no longer subject to return. Soon many slaves sought refuge in Union territory to be declared "contraband." Butler served in Congress after the end of the war, authoring legislation to ban racial discrimination in public accommodations, which passed Congress in 1875 but was struck down by the Supreme Court in 1883. Many of the provisions were resurrected in the civil rights acts of the 1960s.

Source: Library of Congress: Prints and Photographs Division
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Images of African-American Slavery and Freedom
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Audio interview of ex-slave, Fountain Hughes

Of the four million slaves freed at the end of the Civil War, only 26 later recorded on audio tape their recollections of slavery. This is an interview with Fountain Hughes, talking about when he was a slave in Charlottesville Virginia.

Interview with Fountain Hughes, Baltimore, Maryland, June 11, 1949.

Source: Library of Congress: American Memory - Voices from the Days of Slavery
Fountain Hughes Image:
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Bill to abolish slavery, February 17, 1864

Bill introduced by Sen. Benjamin Gratz Brown of Missouri. But members of Congress were increasingly thinking that a constitutional amendment, more than just a new law, would be needed to make the emancipation of slaves secure. So by the end of 1865 a constitutional amendment was passed by both the House and Senate, and after ratification by the states, it became the Thirteenth Amendment to the Constitution.

A Bill to abolish slavery throughout all the States and Territories of the United States, February 17, 1864.

Source: Library of Congress: A Century of Lawmaking for a New Nation: U.S.
Congressional Documents and Debates, 1774-1875:
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