Slave Auctions on the Courthouse Steps: Court Sales of Slaves in Antebellum South Carolina

Slavery and the Law 329-64 (Paul Finkelman, ed., 1997)

Posted: 17 Aug 2020

See all articles by Thomas D. Russell

Thomas D. Russell

University of Denver Sturm College of Law

Date Written: 1997

Abstract

In “Slave Auctions on the Courthouse Steps: Court Sales of Slaves in Antebellum South Carolina,” I present my empirical argument that one-half of all slave sales were court-ordered or court-supervised auctions. I base this conclusion on extensive examination of primary sources in South Carolina. This finding puts the courts at the center of the slave trade, and that is why I characterize the judicial system as the state’s greatest slave auctioneering firm.

This piece appeared in Finkelman, ed. Slavery and the Law (Madison: Madison House, 1997) and, in slightly different form, as part of a symposium on The Law of Slavery the Paul Finkelman edited for the Chicago-Kent Law Review in 1993. 68 Chicago-Kent Law Review 1241-82 (1993).

If you have any question or comments about the piece, I would be delighted to hear from you.

Keywords: Antebellum, Antiracism, Auctions, Black Lives Matter, BLM, Chancery, Empirical, Family Separation, Family, Ideology, Institutional Racism, Legal history, Quantitative, Sheriffs, Slave auctions, Slavery, South Carolina, Systemic Racism, Trial Courts

Suggested Citation

Russell, Thomas David, Slave Auctions on the Courthouse Steps: Court Sales of Slaves in Antebellum South Carolina (1997). Slavery and the Law 329-64 (Paul Finkelman, ed., 1997), Available at SSRN: https://ssrn.com/abstract=1581691

Thomas David Russell (Contact Author)

University of Denver Sturm College of Law ( email )

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