Franklin & Armfield Slave-Trading Firm
Original Author: American Anti-Slavery Society; William S. Dorr, printer
Created: 1836
Medium: Letterpress with wood engraving

Franklin & Armfield’s Slave Prison

Enslaved men, women, and children are summoned out to a paved yard at the Franklin and Armfield slave-trading company in Alexandria. The owner, or an employee of the company, wields a whip as he directs the slaves who have been brought out for inspection. The visitor who witnessed this scene said there were between fifty and sixty enslaved men and about fifty women. Some of the women held babies in their arms, and, the eyewitness wrote, "I thought I saw in the faces of these mothers some indications of irrepressible feeling. It seemed to me that they hugged their little ones more closely, and that a cold perspiration stood on their foreheads, and I thought I saw tears too." He noted there were "about 28 children under ten years of age." Franklin and Armfield advertised in the Washington newspapers, offering cash for slaves. The enslaved they purchased were then resold for a higher price. The firm owned a fleet of sailing ships that it used regularly to ship slaves to New Orleans, sending "not less than 1000 slaves" in the year 1834, according to their own account.

This engraving is a detail from a broadside published by the American Anti-Slavery Society in 1836 that denounced the slave market in Washington, D.C., and its environs.