Waters to Slavery

Slave ships unloaded their human cargo at Annapolis, Alexandria, Yorktown, Norfolk, and the ports of the Eastern Shore. During the 1600s, most of the slaves were imported by way of the West Indies; by the 1700s, most arrived directly from Africa. By 1750, slavery was firmly entrenched in the economy and culture of the region. Ultimately, more than 100,000 enslaved Africans were brought to the colonies of Maryland and Virginia. By the 1730s, the slave population was naturally self-sustaining. Though the legal, international slave trade ceased in 1807, Maryland and Virginia continued to ship slaves to other domestic markets before the Civil War. Each year, thousands of slaves were separated from their families. From 1817 to 1860, at least 40,000 slaves were shipped from Norfolk, Richmond, Charleston, Alexandria, and Baltimore to New Orleans and Mobile. The domestic trade also included kidnapping free blacks, many of whom were sailors, and shipping them southward.


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