Trouble the Water: The Baltimore to New Orleans Coastal Slave Trade

Thursday, January 4, 2018: 3:50 PM
Roosevelt Room 2 (Marriott Wardman Park)
Jennie Williams, Johns Hopkins University
Between 1818 and the Civil War, slave traders and migrant planters shipped between 15,000 and 20,000 enslaved persons from Baltimore to New Orleans by sea. The coastal slave trade accounted for approximately eighty-three percent of this traffic while migrant planters owned the remainder. This paper presents a detailed portrait of the coastal slave trade, based upon more than 900 extant manifests of enslaved passengers. It adds to existing literature on the New Orleans slave market and the interregional slave trade by presenting a newly detailed and quantitative account of a robust and representative strand of the coastal slave trade: Nearly one in five of all enslaved persons who arrived in New Orleans by sea between 1818 and the Civil War departed from Baltimore docks. This paper provides an overview of the coastal slave trade’s operations and its key actors, outlines structural and demographic distinctions differentiating the coastal slave trade from the slave trade conducted over land, and presents a demographic profile of the enslaved population sold in this traffic.