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“Bite-Size Bits of Local, National, and Global History”
Wheeling in Ohio County, West Virginia — The American South (Mid-Atlantic)
 

Slave Auction Block

“Sold down river”

 
 
Slave Auction Block Marker image. Click for full size.
By Allen C. Browne, December 31, 2013
1. Slave Auction Block Marker
Inscription. Although the residents of the western part of Virginia owned far fewer slaves than their counterparts to the east, antebellum Wheeling was part of the social and political fabric of slaveholding Virginia. A slave-auction block stood at the northwestern corner of the Second Ward market house here. Judge John Cochran described it in his book, Bonnie Belmont. In 1855, he wrote, "a wooden movable platform about two and a half feet high and six feed square, approached by some three or four steps. The auctioneer was a little dapper fellow with a ringing voice. Not a very large crowd was surrounding the auction block. On top of it was a portly and rather aged negress and the auctioneer." Such scenes increased the opposition to slavery here.

The antebellum Deep South had an insatiable need for slave labor for the cotton plantations there. Virginia, America's largest slaveholding state, exported half a million slaves to points south and west. Wheeling was part of that network, the destination of the overland route from Baltimore to the Ohio River and then to slave markets in Charleston (present-day West Virginia), Kentucky, and along the Mississippi River. Coffles of shackled slaves passed through Wheeling on the National Road and later were transported by railroad to be "sold down river." Held in pens nearby, slaves sometimes
Slave Auction Block Marker image. Click for full size.
By Allen C. Browne, December 31, 2013
2. Slave Auction Block Marker
escaped and the assistance of conductors on the Underground Railroad based in Martins Ferry, Ohio. Opposition to the slave trade here eventually rerouted much of the traffic east to Alexandria.
 
Erected by West Virginia Civil War Trails.
 
Marker series. This marker is included in the West Virginia Civil War Trails marker series.
 
Location. 40° 4.226′ N, 80° 43.393′ W. Marker is in Wheeling, West Virginia, in Ohio County. Marker is at the intersection of 10thStreet (U.S. 40) and Market Street (West Virginia Route 2), on the left when traveling west on 10thStreet. Touch for map. Marker is in this post office area: Wheeling WV 26003, United States of America.
 
Other nearby markers. At least 8 other markers are within walking distance of this marker. Wheeling Suspension Bridge (about 400 feet away, measured in a direct line); Wheeling Suspension Bridge - 1849 (about 500 feet away); The Siege of Fort Henry (about 600 feet away); Fort Henry (about 600 feet away); a different marker also named Wheeling Suspension Bridge (about 600 feet away); Wheeling (about 600 feet away); a different marker also named Fort Henry (about 600 feet away); Pennsylvania Depot (about 700 feet away). Touch for a list and map of all markers in Wheeling.
 
Categories. Abolition & Underground RRAfrican AmericansWar, US Civil
 
Bell image. Click for full size.
By Allen C. Browne, December 31, 2013
3. Bell
This large bronze bell, now at the Oglebay Institute Mansion Museum in Wheeling, called the people to the slave auction. Cast in Troy, New York, in 1854, it stands four feet high and has a three-foot-diameter base.
Close-up of side-bar on marker
Oglebay Institute
Slave Auction image. Click for full size.
By Allen C. Browne, December 31, 2013
4. Slave Auction
Close-up of image on marker
Library of Congress
Market House image. Click for full size.
By Allen C. Browne, December 31, 2013
5. Market House
The near right corner of the old Market House, now Market Plaza, was the site of the slave auction.
Close-up of photo on marker
Margaret Brennan
You are Here image. Click for full size.
By Allen C. Browne, December 31, 2013
6. You are Here
Close-up of map on marker
 
 
Credits. This page was last revised on June 16, 2016. This page originally submitted on January 1, 2014, by Allen C. Browne of Silver Spring, Maryland. This page has been viewed 856 times since then and 107 times this year. Photos:   1, 2, 3, 4, 5, 6. submitted on January 1, 2014, by Allen C. Browne of Silver Spring, Maryland. • Bernard Fisher was the editor who published this page.
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