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“Bite-Size Bits of Local, National, and Global History”
Alexandria, Virginia — The American South (Mid-Atlantic)
 

Franklin and Armfield Slave Office

(1315 Duke Street)

 
 
Franklin and Armfield Slave Office Marker image. Click for full size.
By Richard E. Miller, December 5, 2008
1. Franklin and Armfield Slave Office Marker
Inscription. Isaac Franklin and John Armfield leased this brick building with access to the wharves and docks in 1828 as a holding pen for enslaved people being shipped from Northern Virginia to Louisiana. They purchased the building and three lots in 1832. From this location Armfield bought bondspeople at low prices and shipped them south to his partner Franklin in Natchez Mississippi and New Orleans, Louisiana, to be sold at higher prices. By the 1830s, they often sold 1,000 people annually, operating as one of the largest slave-trading companies in the United States until 1836. Slave traders continuously owned the property until 1861.
 
Erected 2005 by Department of Historic Resources. (Marker Number E-131.)
 
Marker series. This marker is included in the National Historic Landmarks marker series.
 
Location. 38° 48.233′ N, 77° 3.283′ W. Marker is in Alexandria, Virginia. Marker is on Duke Street (Virginia Route 236). Touch for map. Marker is at or near this postal address: 1315 Duke Street, Alexandria VA 22314, United States of America.
 
Other nearby markers. At least 8 other markers are within walking distance of this marker. 1323 Duke Street – From Slavery to Freedom and Service (a few steps from this marker); Shiloh Baptist Church
Franklin and Armfield Slave Office/Freedom House Museum image. Click for full size.
By Richard E. Miller, December 23, 2008
2. Franklin and Armfield Slave Office/Freedom House Museum
(within shouting distance of this marker); L'Overture Hospital HQ (within shouting distance of this marker); L’Ouverture Hospital (about 400 feet away, measured in a direct line); Capt. James McGuire House (about 700 feet away); James Harris House (about 800 feet away); The Duke Street Tanyard (approx. 0.2 miles away); Original Federal Boundary Stone SW 1 (approx. 0.2 miles away). Touch for a list and map of all markers in Alexandria.
 
Related markers. Click here for a list of markers that are related to this marker. To better understand the relationship, study each marker in the order shown.
 
Also see . . .
1. Franklin and Armfield. (Submitted on December 5, 2008, by Richard E. Miller of Oxon Hill, Maryland.)
2. Franklin and Armfield Office. (Submitted on December 5, 2008, by Richard E. Miller of Oxon Hill, Maryland.)
3. Northern Virginia Urban League - Freedom House Museum. (Submitted on December 23, 2008, by Richard E. Miller of Oxon Hill, Maryland.)
4. Alexandria Black History Museum - "A Loathsome Prison . . .". (Submitted on December 23, 2008, by Richard E. Miller of Oxon Hill, Maryland.)
 
Additional comments.
National Historic Landmark image. Click for full size.
By Richard E. Miller, December 23, 2008
3. National Historic Landmark

1. Franklin and Armfield and the U.S. Internal Slave Trade
... Slaves awaiting shipment to markets in New Orleans and Natchez were imprisoned in walled pens behind the house. At night they slept in a two-story rear wing with grated doors and windows. ...

For enslaved Blacks in Virginia, there were few fates worse than Duke Street. “Louisiana was considered by slaves a place of slaughter,” wrote emancipated slave Jacob Stroyer. With the same sentiment, Rev. Josiah Henson, thought to be the basis for Harriet Beecher Stowes’ fictional Uncle Tom, wrote in his autobiography that the fear of being sold south filled slaves of the upper South with “perpetual dread.” But selling slaves south filled the pockets of slave traders with perpetual profits. ... “We will give Cash for one hundred likely YOUNG NEGROES,” read one Franklin and Armfield ad in the Alexandria Gazette in 1828. “Persons who wish to sell, would do well to give us a call, as the negroes are wanted immediately. We will give more than any other purchasers that are in the market or may hereafter come into the market.”

In mid- to late summer, slave drivers armed with guns and whips, marched a chained and manacled coffle of slaves through Tennessee to the Forks of the Road slave market in Natchez. ... Every month from
"The former office of Price Birch & Company, Dealers in Slaves on Duke Street in Alexandria, VA " image. Click for full size.
Library of Congress, Civil War
4. "The former office of Price Birch & Company, Dealers in Slaves on Duke Street in Alexandria, VA "
Union soldiers in front of the slave dealership purchased in 1858 by Price Birch & Company, originally established by Franklin & Armfield.
October to May, the firm also shipped slaves from Alexandria to New Orleans on their fleet of steamboats and ships, including one named for partner Isaac Franklin. ...

At the firm’s peak in the 1830’s it sold between 1,000 and 1,200 slaves a year, making it a key player in the interstate slave commerce that transported enslaved Blacks from Upper South hubs in Baltimore, the District of Columbia (of which Alexandria was a component until 1846), Richmond, Norfolk, Nashville and St. Louis to markets in Charleston, Savannah, Mobile, Natchez, and New Orleans.

Between 1820 and 1860 about 650,000 people were sold across state lines (twice as many as were traded locally); and the business generated by Franklin and Armfield accounts for Washington, D.C./Alexandria's, reputation as the foremost slave trading center of the era....

In 1846 the Duke Street property was purchased by a Franklin & Armfield agent, George Kephart, and in 1858 to a third slave trading firm, Price, Birch, and Co. The Adamesque structure, built in 1812 for General Andrew Young, was used to jail Union army deserters and house freed “contraband” Blacks after Alexandria fell to Union troops in 1861. In 1863 the building provided the first meeting place for Shiloh Baptist Church, founded by former slaves housed there. The slave pens were demolished in the 1870s.

[Extracted mainly from: <http://www.aaheritageva.org/search/sites.php?site_id=476> Virginia Foundation For the Humanities, African American Heritage Program.]
    — Submitted December 5, 2008, by Richard E. Miller of Oxon Hill, Maryland.

 
Additional keywords. Internal slave trade; George Kephart; Price, Birch, and Co.; L'Ouverture Hospital; Prison; Contraband; Freedmen; Urban League; Freedom House.
 
Categories. African AmericansAntebellum South, USIndustry & CommerceWar, US Civil
 
 
Credits. This page was last revised on June 16, 2016. This page originally submitted on December 5, 2008, by Richard E. Miller of Oxon Hill, Maryland. This page has been viewed 6,425 times since then and 186 times this year. Last updated on March 27, 2014, by Richard E. Miller of Oxon Hill, Maryland. Photos:   1. submitted on December 5, 2008, by Richard E. Miller of Oxon Hill, Maryland.   2, 3. submitted on December 23, 2008, by Richard E. Miller of Oxon Hill, Maryland.   4. submitted on February 17, 2010, by Richard E. Miller of Oxon Hill, Maryland. • Bernard Fisher was the editor who published this page.
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