From ancient times to the present day, slavery was a part of many different cultures, nationalities, and religions. It was first mentioned in the earliest records, such as the Mesopotamian Code Of Hammurabi (c. 1860 BC), and it can, unfortunately still be found in some countries around the world. Although the legal positions of slaves have differed in different times and places, today, domestic slavery is no longer legal anywhere in the world. However, in some form or another, it still appears.

American history is not an exception here. In the USA, having black slaves, was a legal institution in most states during the 18th and 19th centuries. Before the law to prohibit the slave trade was enacted, they were treated like any other commodity you might buy. There were times when slaves were sold to the person who bid the most for them. Sometimes, chattel slavery also destroyed families since the bidder only wanted to buy the strongest and healthiest family member.

As shocking as these slavery facts sound, when the slave ship was about to arrive, the ads for auctions where slaves could be bought appeared all over the city in the form of posters. You can see some of these vintage ads below, but we must warn you – they’re not for the fainthearted, but you cannot erase historical facts. (h/t)

#1

In The 19th Century Were Spread Posters Communicating Auctions Sales Of American Slaves And This Is Unbelievable To Have Happened

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Katie Smith
Community Member
2 years ago

It's interesting to see where the issues with law enforcement started. It shows that this is nothing knew.

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#2

In The 19th Century Were Spread Posters Communicating Auctions Sales Of American Slaves And This Is Unbelievable To Have Happened

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Rich Auntie Skeleton
Community Member
2 years ago

Just so you all know "picinniny" was used as a slur for prepubescent black girls back then.

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#3

In The 19th Century Were Spread Posters Communicating Auctions Sales Of American Slaves And This Is Unbelievable To Have Happened

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BusLady
Community Member
2 years ago

He proudly signed his name.

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#4

In The 19th Century Were Spread Posters Communicating Auctions Sales Of American Slaves And This Is Unbelievable To Have Happened

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JillVille
Community Member
2 years ago

They are advertising a murder about to happen because they can't stop it... this blows my mind!

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#5

In The 19th Century Were Spread Posters Communicating Auctions Sales Of American Slaves And This Is Unbelievable To Have Happened

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Nikki🦄
Community Member
2 years ago

ugh why. I am ashamed of what we used to be

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#6

In The 19th Century Were Spread Posters Communicating Auctions Sales Of American Slaves And This Is Unbelievable To Have Happened

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~Ravenclaw~ OwO
Community Member
2 years ago

OMG! THEY LITERALLY ARE TREATING THEM LIKE TOOLS! JUST FARM TOOLS!

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#7

In The 19th Century Were Spread Posters Communicating Auctions Sales Of American Slaves And This Is Unbelievable To Have Happened

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Bella Smith
Community Member
2 years ago

the sentance likely young women with three children (CHILDREN) also at the same time on the SAME TERMS three Mules. THEY ARE ACTING AS IF HUMAN SLAVES ARE THE SAME VALUE AS HORSES OR 'MULES'

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#8

In The 19th Century Were Spread Posters Communicating Auctions Sales Of American Slaves And This Is Unbelievable To Have Happened

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Bella Smith
Community Member
2 years ago

THIS IS MAKING ME SICK!

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#9

In The 19th Century Were Spread Posters Communicating Auctions Sales Of American Slaves And This Is Unbelievable To Have Happened

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Nadja Lambacher
Community Member
2 years ago

"which will be at the purchaser's option" how could people be so cynical and cruel?

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#10

In The 19th Century Were Spread Posters Communicating Auctions Sales Of American Slaves And This Is Unbelievable To Have Happened

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diane a
Community Member
2 years ago

Dont downvote these - they need to be seen as a sample of how men treat fellow men

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#11

In The 19th Century Were Spread Posters Communicating Auctions Sales Of American Slaves And This Is Unbelievable To Have Happened

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RaroaRaroa
Community Member
2 years ago

The only positive (and I find it hard to use the term at all) is that they appear to be keeping families together. It is so sad to think people lived their entire lives like this, never knowing freedom, never having any real hope to.

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#12

In The 19th Century Were Spread Posters Communicating Auctions Sales Of American Slaves And This Is Unbelievable To Have Happened

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Walt Abner
Community Member
2 years ago

Full hand meaning full time worker. 3-4 hand was like a small child, be it male or female.

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#13

In The 19th Century Were Spread Posters Communicating Auctions Sales Of American Slaves And This Is Unbelievable To Have Happened

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Laura Rodway
Community Member
2 years ago

it breaks my heart to see how these poor people were treated..cant even imagine what they went through

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#14

In The 19th Century Were Spread Posters Communicating Auctions Sales Of American Slaves And This Is Unbelievable To Have Happened

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JillVille
Community Member
2 years ago

Call at the tavern for me. This is the way you got in touch with people back then, leave a message for them at the tavern they frequent. So weird to try and imagine this now!

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#15

In The 19th Century Were Spread Posters Communicating Auctions Sales Of American Slaves And This Is Unbelievable To Have Happened

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Chicago Kitty
Community Member
2 years ago

Hmmnnn...I wonder how so many are described as "mulatress and mulatroo" - I'm afraid they may be products of master/slave rape since whites and blacks did not inter-marry at the time. So heartbreaking to see a little family listed as 5, 6 & 7.

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#16

In The 19th Century Were Spread Posters Communicating Auctions Sales Of American Slaves And This Is Unbelievable To Have Happened

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Lilly
Community Member
2 years ago

can anyone explain why "f" is used in some places ('reafonable') instead of 's' ? i've noticed this in other posts on here as well.

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#17

In The 19th Century Were Spread Posters Communicating Auctions Sales Of American Slaves And This Is Unbelievable To Have Happened

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#18

In The 19th Century Were Spread Posters Communicating Auctions Sales Of American Slaves And This Is Unbelievable To Have Happened

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Løberg Ellen
Community Member
2 years ago

I heard that children as young as 4 were taken from the UK to Australia during the first and second world war. to work as slaves! They were beaten, threatened, starved and scared beyond words!

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#19

In The 19th Century Were Spread Posters Communicating Auctions Sales Of American Slaves And This Is Unbelievable To Have Happened

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Grazina Strolia
Community Member
2 years ago

Griff, apparently, is another word for mulatto.

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#20

In The 19th Century Were Spread Posters Communicating Auctions Sales Of American Slaves And This Is Unbelievable To Have Happened

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Dog Lover
Community Member
2 years ago

Why do they use the letter ‘f’ instead of ‘s’ in most instances?

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#21

In The 19th Century Were Spread Posters Communicating Auctions Sales Of American Slaves And This Is Unbelievable To Have Happened

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PeterSpain
Community Member
2 years ago

Marlow was an engineer at the age of 12?

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#22

In The 19th Century Were Spread Posters Communicating Auctions Sales Of American Slaves And This Is Unbelievable To Have Happened

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diane a
Community Member
2 years ago

We must always remember that Little Joe and Simon, Little Peter, Moses and Morris, Alfred, Frank and Long John Major were human beings - not chattels - things like this are often the only record of their existance