Untitled Slave Auction print

Untitled Slave Auction print

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Although the importation of slaves was outlawed in 1807, the domestic slave trade remained a major economic establishment up until the Civil War. In the decades leading up to the conflict, abolitionists would use the imagery of the slave trade to appeal to the sympathy of northern whites, spreading accounts of the auction of slaves to cruel masters and the tragic separation of families. These stories were disseminated to the Northern public through novels such as Harriet Beecher Stowe’s Uncle Tom’s Cabin, articles in newspaper operated by the American Anti-Slavery Society, and the published narratives of former slaves.
This print, possibly from 1858, may have been created as an illustration to accompany a slave narrative, a play, or a public abolition program. It depicts a young enslaved girl, being auctioned off in front of a crowd of well-dressed white men. The auction master raises his gavel, preparing to lock in the winning bid. To the left, an enslaved man comforts the girl’s weeping mother. A trademark below the auctioneer recognizes the print as a product of the little-known “Hudson Del. & Eng.” Above the illustration, a previous owner has penciled in, “The Methodist Church / Aug 10.”
Currently not on view
Object Name
Object Type
Date made
place made
Physical Description
paper (overall material)
ink (overall material)
image: 19 in x 28 in; 48.26 cm x 71.12 cm
ID Number
catalog number
accession number
Credit Line
Harry T. Peters "America on Stone" Lithography Collection
African American
Civil War
See more items in
Cultural and Community Life: Domestic Life
Domestic Furnishings
American Civil War Prints
Data Source
National Museum of American History
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