asks John H., from Seattle, Washington…
The City Market is what was called the “Slaves’ Market,” not the “Slaves Market.” That apostrophe makes all the difference in the world. While a shocking number of humans were sold into slavery in Charleston (a very dark period in the City’s history), they were not sold at what is now called the City Market. The Slaves’ Market (note the apostrophe) was actually where the slaves were allowed to go and sell things (items they made, cooked, created) for their own benefit.
The bad history of selling slaves took place at the Slave Mart and other locations.
Joy Cornwell says
Love all your time and energy. Thanks for clearing that up. I was someone that thought differently as a child just hearing the name.
Liz Hewitt says
There is/was a slave mart museum on north market street
Glimpses of Charleston says
The Museum is on Chalmers Street
Mary Pitstick says
AND YOU REALLY BELIEVE THAT THE SLAVE WERE ALLOWED TO HAVE ANYTHING OR ALLOWED OFF THE PLANTATIONS TO SELL THEIR GOODS?? THINK ABOUT IT………
History has shown that the slaves in Charleston and Georgetown were treated different from those in other southern states. Not making this right by any means however.
Mary do some research before u comment on something which obviously u know absolutely jack shit about
Dee Med says
Slaves in our area were treated well. Especially those attached to French Huguenot’s. Our family history shows that the children of the “farm hands” as they were called not only studied with family children, they worshiped in the church. Mary, you might want to go to the Huguenot Society. The history books only reflect the opinion of the victors. of the Civil War. Surely you understand that telling the worst tales motivated troops and sagging morale back home in the North. . Telling the troops that they were killing innocent families that treated slaves as valued individuals would not have won the war.
I didn’t know slaves could be treated well….slavery is slavery there is nothing “well” about it.
Well damn that’s not what my great grandmother told me. Oh… And she WAS a slave. That’s not how I recall the stories I was told from the horses mouth. Just like Mary said. It don’t matter how well you think slaves in Charleston was treated… A slave is a slave that should’ve never been a slave in the first place
Different?? Please elaborate.
Ophelia Burch says
That’s a lie because what ever the slaves made the slave masters took it from for himself and even their children.
John Mood says
Some slaveholders may have been so barbaric, but not every single one was. Many were somewhat benevolent. Quite a number of freedmen took their former masters’. surnames, as they had none to use of their own.
I doubt people that were hated by their former slaves got their names used.
You can’t call yourself benevolent whole robbing others of their freedom.
You can’t rob people of their own names and heritage and then say they “chose” your name.
Human bondage is wrong but no all human bondage was the same. Many were permitted to go to the Slaves Market. Being the holder of humans in bondage is wrong but not every slave master was the same. Thru oral history we know that some slaves if not many slaves in Charleston were permitted to earn money and/or trade for goods at the Slaves Market. Learn to understand history in the era during which it happened.
John Mood says
Yes, absolutely. While my family was not agrarian and held no slaves (some were secretly abolitionists), slaves were allowed to make goods and sell for their own profit.
Eric Cav. says
Scott you took the words right out of my mouth.
Susan Vroman says
i was a little girl when I met my babysitter’s great grandmother. She told us that both, her and her mother were sold there! Trying to clean up and change history with an apostrophe is insane! You are doing a disservice to all southerners! Shame on you!,,
Glimpses of Charleston says
It is undisputed that slaves were not sold at the City Market… and that they sold goods there. The City Market was for meat and produce. No one is saying slaves were not sold in Charleston (a horrible part of the City’s history) — it was the prime entry point into the US for enslaved Africans. But, they were not sold at the City Market.
Susan Hacker says
If people would do a little research instead of saying things they don’t know. Sir you are 100%correct in the analogy Of the market and the port of entry. Thank you.
John Mood says
One of my eldest great aunts used to sing the slave vendors songs, one comes to mind. Slaves would buy (or cast net for them) a cartload of iced-down shrimp fresh-caught, and wander the streets selling shrimp to a song (attracting customers to the curb of the street) with their advertising song:
“Shrimpy raw, raw, raw, raw.
You must boil them ’til they’re pink!
OR THEY’LL STINK, STINK, STINK!”
You must be 100 years old?
Caroline C says
Thanks for TRYING to set this record straight about City Market and the Slave Mart. How dare some folks who know no better try to dispute/confuse it. How bull-headed and rude!
Not Impressed says
What a cute bit of antebellum romanticism … and a perfect example of the wonder-spin that pseudo historians are trying to put on this “dark and unsavory” era of Charleston’s otherwise sweet, charming past. It *should* be obvious to any learned individual that the concept of a market where slaves would go to sell their goods or produce is not based in fact. What did slaves own or produce? What earnings would a slave have been entitled to? We’re not talking about the indentured servants of other nations working to earn their freedom; these were one-eighth human, raped and mutilated, never to be free, white men’s slaves. It was against the actual law for slaves to read or write, but they were given leisure time to socialize and enjoy the challenges of small business ownership, two blocks from the harbor? Mmmkay. Apostrophe my ass. Please stop misrepresenting the truth, it does not undo the atrocities of the past. This is ridiculous.
Charleston had different rules and laws regarding slaves that you might not be aware of.
The hiring-out system was a major feature of urban slavery. Slaves were often given autonomy to “hire themselves out” where they would obtain work, negotiate their wages and hours, and even determine their own living arrangements.
Slaves could indeed become literate, and even- well-educated in some cases.
I recommend “Black Charlestonians” by Bernard Powers Jr. as an excellent source.
Frederick Douglass was “hired out” and still ran away because slavery was absolutely cruel. Period. He wrote about it, as did many others. I suggest you all do some serious reading of enslaved people’s narratives. I’m the descendant of Black South Carolinians and the only oral history I ever heard was horrific.
I 100% agree. People think if you make it humane and call it something different like “farm hands” that proves there was no such thing as slavery. My family was part of the SC slave trade meaning they were slaves, not “farm hands” or indentured servants. They didn’t make money for any work. But what they did get was beaten, raped, murdered, separated from their children, etc. Please don’t deceive these people by making it seem as though they were free to do what they pleased while also making a profit when you know it’s not true. Oh what a tangled web we weave, when we practice to deceive.
It was called the slaves market because people sent their slaves there to buy meat and produce for them. The smell their was horrible so they sent their slaves to do the shopping.
John Mood says
I am not impressed with folks that lie under the pseudonym. “Not Impressed”. My real name IS john Mood, and my family has been in Charleston, SC since about 1780. Sir or Madam, the use of profanity is a sign of someone with a limited vocabulary.
Exactly! Straight up BS! Since when did slaves have anything of their own to sell? Another “White” lie! They really have a hard time owning up to the true history of what really happened there! Why? Downtown was built on the back of Slaves!
Jonathan Kenneth Green says
Look up the name,”Denmark Vessey.” He was a slave who somehow made enough money to buy a city lottery ticket. His number….1884…..hit the jackpot. He won 1500$ and bought his freedom. Somehow…..he had money to buy a ticket.
J Brain says
People just want to be right. Putting your modern sensibilities on the past will only get you into trouble. History is a matter of perspective. Remember: “history becomes legend, legend becomes myth.”
For the record it was illegal to sell slaves in the city market. Did it happen? Maybe? Not likely though. If you think about it where would be the most convenient place to do this? Any idea? Mmmmm. How about the docks and wharves. Fresh off the boat. Do you know of the pest houses on Sullivan’s Island? “The Ellis Island for Black Americans” Have you visited the Exchange Building? The Slave Mart museum?
And yes enslaved Africans did have more “freedoms” in this city than in others. Still slaves. Still owned. Still terrible and awful. No real rights. But given some free time. Yes able to earn some money of their own. But also being hired out by their owners. Research the badge system. An example of the “freedoms” the enslaved had would be the right to gamble. How did Denmark Vesey purchase his freedom? It’s a complicated and entangled issue. It’s great that we are so appalled by it. We should be. But understand in the past it was excepted and a part of society. Here and all over the world. All we can do is learn from it and try to be more enlightened.
It’s still going on in some parts of Africa. Where is the outcry over it? What about the Muslim slaveowners who marched Africans across the desert to be sold into slavery? A lot of the never lived to make it to market! Every race was enslaved at one time or another in History! We should just learn from it and move on huh?
Every city has a past and every country has a past. We can choose to live in the past or to move forward. I for one love Charleston and visit every chance I get.
GEORGE M JONES says
I DONT KNOW ABOUT THAT……..I HAVE WALKED PASS THERE ONE NIGHT AND THE FEELING I GOT WAS SAD AND DARK,,,,,,,,
Learn before you speak says
Read the book ” Black Masters ” it will give some of you a lot to think about and shut some of you up from embarrassment from your ignorance. It is about BLACK slave owners in the South. Please educate yourselves!
Michelle Chase says
They were not “sold” there but they were housed there until auction. It didn’t become a public market until it was donated to the city by the Pinckney family after the emancipation proclamation. Anybody thinks that the small building on Chalmers Street housed all the slaves that came through the largest slave port in the US is either not working with a full deck, believes the stories that are told nowadays about the market’s history that didn’t even exist when I was a child, or just wants you to spend your money on tourism and the trinkets in the market. Either way, history is history…some bad, some good….don’t try to change it for the almighty dollar. Let people know the truth and then make up their own minds about where they want to patronize.