The Richmond Slave Trade

I’m currently reading The Richmond Slave Trade: The Economic Backbone of the Old Dominion by Jack Trammell (published by The History Press). Trammell traces the history of Richmond’s slave trade, starting with background information on the beginnings of the African slave trade prior to the war, to stories of the dealings in the Confederate capitol leading up to, during, and after the civil war.

Trammell is a professor at Randolph-Macon College in Ashland, Virginia just north of Richmond, and is a local historian, award-winning author, and a man of many interests. I met Jack when he spoke to the Greater Richmond Stamp club ( in November. You see, he also writes articles on stamp collecting for philatelic publications such as Linn’s Stamp News. One of our club members suggested we ask Jack to come speak, and he graciously accepted and gave a very interesting presentation on a wide range of subjects from women on stamps to war letters written by Romanian soldiers.

Many Civil War readers fail to read as much on slavery as they should, instead concentrating on the battles or the military men or the weapons. The Richmond Slave Trade provides a new perspective on an important part of the nation’s history.  Further, Trammell points out the sections of Richmond where the slave trade took place and the large scope of the enterprise, which I can appreciate as someone living near Richmond.  While I knew Richmond was a center of commerce with numerous tobacco warehouses and businesses, I never appreciated the extent of the slave trade. Trammell’s slim book is packed with details, but those details are efficiently provided in 122 pages — an ideal length. One word of warning if you are like me and get most of your books in person at a bookstore instead of online.  Here in the Richmond area the book was shelved in the “Local History” section instead of the “Civil War” section. This is book is highly recommended: go pick it up and learn about slavery.

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