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He said his own father knew the name of the people who had enslaved their family in Virginia, knew where they lived—in the same house and on the same land—in Hanover County, among the rumpled hills north of Richmond. We would like to see it, if possible. Now, whether the papers were trivial or actual plantation records, who knows? But he stood in the door, in front of my grandfather, and lit a match to the papers. McQuinn was raised in Richmond, the capital of Virginia and the former capital of the Confederacy—a city crowded with monuments to the Old South.

She is a politician now, elected to the city council in the late s and to the Virginia House of Delegates in One of her proudest accomplishments in politics, she says, has been to throw new light on an alternate history. For example, she persuaded the city to fund a tourist walk about slavery, a kind of mirror image of the Freedom Trail in Boston. Not long ago I was reading some old letters at the library of the University of North Carolina, doing a little unearthing of my own. Among the hundreds of hard-to-read and yellowing papers, I found one note dated April 16,from a man named James Franklin in Natchez, Artistic nude women Louisville Kentucky granny, to the home office of his company in Virginia.

Over the next decade, with Armfield based in Alexandria and Isaac Franklin in New Orleans, the two became the undisputed tycoons of the domestic slave trade, with an economic impact that is hard to overstate. Infor example, 5 percent of all the commercial credit available through the Second Bank of the United States had been extended to their firm. With that al from Natchez, Armfield began vacuuming up people from the Virginia countryside. The partners employed stringers—headhunters who worked on commission—collecting enslaved people up and down the East Coast, knocking on doors, asking tobacco and rice planters whether they would sell.

Many slaveholders were inclined to do so, as their plantations made smaller fortunes than many princeling sons would have liked. Capitol: seamstresses, nurses, valets, field hands, hostlers, carpenters, cooks, houseboys, coachmen, laundresses, boatmen. There were so-called fancy girls, young women who would work mainly as concubines. And, always, children. By August, Armfield had more than ready for the march.

In the library at Yale I did a bit more unearthing and found a travelogue by a man named Ethan Andrews, who happened to pass through Alexandria a year later and witness the organizing of an Armfield coffle. His book was not much read—it had a due-date notice from 50 years ago—but in it Andrews described the scene as Armfield directed the loading for an enormous journey.

There was a pair of carriages for the whites. InArmfield sat on his horse in front of the procession, armed with a gun and a Artistic nude women Louisville Kentucky granny. Other white Artistic nude women Louisville Kentucky granny, similarly armed, were arrayed behind him. They were guarding men and boys lined up in twos, their wrists handcuffed together, a chain running the length of pairs of hands.

Behind the men were the women and girls, another hundred. They were not handcuffed, although they may have been tied with rope. Some carried small children. After the women came the big wagons—six or seven in all. These carried food, plus children too small to walk ten hours a day. Later the same wagons hauled those who had collapsed and could not be roused with a whip. Then the coffle, like a giant serpent, uncoiled onto Duke Street and marched west, out of town and into a momentous event, a blanked-out saga, an unremembered epic.

I think of it as the Slave Trail of Tears. The Slave Trail of Tears is the great missing migration—a thousand-mile-long river of people, all of them black, reaching from Virginia to Louisiana. They were made to go, deported, you could say, having been sold. It was bigger than the immigration of Jews into the United States during the 19th century, when somearrived from Russia and Eastern Europe.

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It was bigger than the wagon-train migration to the West, beloved of American lore. This movement lasted longer and grabbed up more people than any other migration in North America before The drama of a million individuals going so far from their homes changed the country. It gave the Deep South a character it retains to this day; and it changed the slaves themselves, traumatizing uncountable families.

But until recently, the Slave Trail was buried in memory. Historians know about the Slave Trail. Some museum curators know about it, too. Last fall and this past spring, the Library of Virginia, in Richmond, and the Historic New Orleans Collection, in Louisiana, working separately, put together large exhibitions about the domestic slave trade. Both institutions broke attendance records. It sat under a piece of glass and measured about 2 by 4 feet. If you squinted, you could see pinholes in it. Virginia was the source for the biggest deportation. Nearlypeople were uprooted and sent south from the state between and Outside universities and museums, the story of the Slave Trail lives in shards, broken and scattered.

Artistic nude women Louisville Kentucky granny the move to the Deep South, many slaves found themselves on steamboats winding down the Mississippi to New Orleans. There they were sold to new bosses and dispersed in a mile radius to the sugar and cotton plantations. Many went without their parents, or spouses, or siblings—and some without their children—whom they were made to leave behind.

My own ancestors held slaves in South Carolina for six generations. I have studied Charles Ball and found no family link to him. But names and history contain shadows. About half of those people boarded ships in Washington or Norfolk, bound for Louisiana, where Franklin sold them. The other half walked from the Chesapeake to the Mississippi River, 1, miles, with riverboat steerage for short distances along the way. The Armfield coffle of is better documented than most slave marches.

I started following its footsteps, hoping to find traces of the Slave Trail of Tears. The coffle headed west out of Alexandria. Today the road leaving town becomes U. Route 50, a big-shouldered highway. Lee and Stonewall Jackson, the two Confederate generals. But when the slaves marched, it was known as Little River Turnpike. The coffle moved along at three miles an hour. People sang. Sometimes they were forced to. Slave traders brought a banjo or two and demanded music. The turnpike ran farther west—40 miles to Winchester, and then to the brow of the Blue Ridge Mountains.

Every few miles, Armfield and his chained-up gang came to a toll station. He Artistic nude women Louisville Kentucky granny stop the group in its tracks, pull out his purse and pay the man. The tollkeeper would lift the bar, and the coffle would march under it. About August 25, they reached Winchester and turned south, entering the Shenandoah Valley. Among the people who lived in these parts was John Randolph, a congressman and a cousin of Thomas Jefferson.

Along the way, the coffle met other slave gangs, construction crews rebuilding the Wagon Road, widening it to 22 feet and putting down gravel.

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They were turning out the new Valley Turnpike, a Artistic nude women Louisville Kentucky granny surface with ditches at the sides. The marchers and the roadwork gangs, slaves all, traded long looks. Route 11, a two-lane that runs between soft and misty mountains, with pretty byways. Long stretches of U. Northern Shenandoah was wheat country then, with one in five people enslaved and hoeing in the fields.

Today a few of the plantations survive. I stop at one of the oldest, Belle Grove. The Valley Turnpike once ran on its edge, and the coffle of saw the place from the road. Relatives of President James Madison put up the stone mansion at Belle Grove during the s, and it lives on as a fine house museum run by a historian, Kristen Laise. A walk through the house, a look at the kitchen where all the work was done, a walk through the slave cemetery, a rundown of the people who lived and died here, white and black—thanks to Laise, Belle Grove is not a house museum that shorts the stories of slaves.

Recently, Laise tells me, she stumbled on evidence that in the s a large of people went up for sale at Belle Grove. Hite expressed regret that he had to charge interest if buyers insisted on using credit. The nicest families in the Shenandoah tipped people into the pipeline south. Frederick County Visitor Center.

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In Edinburg, a history bookshop. In Staunton, the Visitor Center. People do know, however, about Civil War battles. The bloodletting here has a kind of glamour. A few people launch into stories about the brave Confederates. A few bring up their own ethnic lore. A woman at a tourist store clarified. My oh my, the Scots-Irish—they were like made of brass.

The children were asleep in some tents; and the males, in chains, were lying on the ground, in groups of about a dozen each. Featherstonhaugh, a geologist on a surveying tour for the federal government, described the slave trader as a raw man in nice clothes.

John Armfield wore a big white hat and striped pants. He had a long dark coat and wore a mustache-less beard. Early the next morning, the gang readied again for the march. On September 6, the gang was marching 50 miles southwest of Roanoke. They came to the New River, a big flow about feet across, and to a dock known as Ingles Artistic nude women Louisville Kentucky granny. Armfield did not want to pay for passage, not with his hundreds. So one of his men picked a shallow place and tested it by sending over a wagon and four horses. Armfield then ordered the men in irons to get in the water.

This was dangerous. If any man lost his footing, everyone could be washed downstream, yanked one after another by the chain. Armfield watched and smoked. Multiply that by The men made it across. Next came wagons with the young children and those who could no longer walk. Last came the women and girls. Armfield crossed them on flatboats. Today, on the same spot, a six-lane bridge crosses the New River, and there is a town called Radford, population 16, Born 50 Artistic nude women Louisville Kentucky granny that way, Radford for 20 years. On the dark slope after 40, since you ask. Daniel is pleasant, happy to talk about his hardscrabble days.

He is white, a face etched by too much sun. It is an easy chat between strangers, until I bring up the slave days. He shakes his head. His face acquires a look that suggests the memory of slavery is like a vampire visiting from a shallow grave.

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Armfield and his caravan came to the Shenandoah from Alexandria. Other coffles came from the direction of Richmond.

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One of them was led by a man named William Waller, who walked from Virginia to Louisiana in with 20 or more slaves. In the deep archive of the Virginia Historical Society I discovered an extraordinary batch of letters that Waller wrote about the experience of selling people he had known and lived with for much of his life.

He was an amateur slave trader, not a pro like Armfield, and his journey, though from another year, is even better documented.

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