The Weeping Time: Saddest Slavery Auction in American History

3 Posted by - October 1, 2018 - Injustices, LATEST POSTS, SLAVERY

The “weeping time” of took place on March 3, 1859. It was a period when the largest sale of African-Americans were auctioned off at a racetrack in Savannah, Georgia. The reason why this particular sale was noted as being the “weeping time” is because during the two-day auction, it rained continuously. It is told that on the days of the auction it looked as if the heavens above were crying the tears of the heartbroken and frighten enslaved men, women and children. Although, husbands, wives, and parents of young children were kept together; sisters, brothers, and other blood kin were sold. There were 436 slaves sold during the two-day “weeping time” auction.

Slave-owners, Pierce Butler and his brother John Butler, inherited their Georgia plantation, but Pierce Butler had lost his inheritance, which at the time was believed to have been worth $700,000; his family was deep in debt. Trustees of the estate had no other alternative but to sell off the property. They started with the mansion and only acquired $30,000 dollars for it, so their next move was to sell the slaves.

The Butler family’s holding included 900 slaves, which was divided into two groups of 450. Half went to the estate of John, who had since died and they would remain on the plantation. The fate of the other 450 Pierce’s half was uncertain with about 20 of them continuing to live on the Butler property. The remainder were to be boarded onto railway cars and steamboats and taken to the Broeck racetrack, where each would be sold to the highest bidder.

The sale of the slaves totaled $303,850. The highest price paid for one family a mother and her five grown children was $6,180. The highest price for one individual was $1,750. The lowest price for any one slave was $250. Soon after the last slave was sold, the sky cleared and the rain stopped. The celebration of the big sale began with champagne drinking and dancing.





  • Elaine Jenkins February 4, 2019 - 6:21 pm Reply

    I cringed at your use of “slaves”.
    My ancestors were “enslaved”.

    Scholars need to correct that habit.

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