Side 1The Domestic Slave Trade
Beginning in the seventeenth century, millions of African people were kidnapped, sold into slavery, and shipped to the Americas as part of the Transatlantic Slave Trade. In 1808, the united States Congress banned the importation of slaves from Africa. At the same time, the high price of cotton and the development of the cotton gin caused the demand for slave labor to skyrocket in the lower South. The Domestic Slave Trade grew to meet this demand. Over the next fifty years, slave traders forcibly transferred hundreds of thousands of enslaved people from the upper South to Alabama and the lower South. Between 1808 and 1860, the enslaved population of Alabama grew from less than 40,000 to more than 435,000. Alabama had one of the largest slave populations in America at the start of the Civil War.
Side 2Slave Transportation to Montgomery
In order to meet the high demand for slaves in Alabama in the early 1800s, slave traders chained African Americans together in coffles and forced them to march hundreds of miles from the upper South to the lower South, including Montgomery. The overland transportation of enslaved people by foot was slow and expensive. By the 1840s, slave traders began to take advantage of two new modes of transportation: the steamboat and the railroad. Steamboats carried slaves from Mobile and New Orleans up the Alabama River to Montgomery. Rail routes constructed with slave labor connected Montgomery's train station to West Point, Georgia and lines extending to the upper South. hundreds of enslaved people began arriving by rail and by boat each day in Montgomery, turning the city into a principal slave trading center in Alabama. Enslaved people who arrived at the riverfront or at the train station were paraded up Commerce Street to be sold in the city's slave markets.