Side 1The Montgomery Slave Trade
Montgomery had grown into one of the most prominent slave trading communities in Alabama by 1860. At the start of the Civil War, the city had a larger slave population than Mobile, New Orleans, or Natchez, Mississippi. Montgomery attracted a growing number of major slave traders whose presence dominated the city's geography and economy. The Montgomery probate office granted at least 164 licenses to slave traders operating in the city from 1848 to 1860. Slave trader's offices were located primarily along Commerce Street and Market Street (now Dexter Avenue). Over time, Montgomery became one of the most important and conspicuous slave trading communities in the United States. After the Alabama legislature banned free black people from residing in the state in 1833, enslavement was the only legally authorized status for African Americans in Montgomery.
Warehouses Used in the Slave Trade
Commerce Street was central to the operation of Montgomery's slave trade. Enslaved people were marched in chains up the street from the riverfront and railroad station to the slave auction site or to local slave depots. Warehouses were critical to the city's slave trade. Slave traders confined enslaved people in warehouses until they could be sold during slave auctions. At 122 Commerce Street was a very large warehouse owned by John Murphy, who provided support to slave traders in the city and built the Murphy house on Bibb Street. The Commerce Street warehouse was used in the 1850s by slave traders like H.W. Farley, who advertised the sale of enslaved children, such as a boy "about fourteen, very likely and sprightly." The warehouse remained in the hands of owners involved in the slave trade until the end of the Civil War.