4:53 pm - Sunday May 24, 1248

Historic Discovery in South Carolina! CHARLESTON: Largest port city in America where 20 million Africans were sold inside Old Slave Mart …African slaves bound in chains mouth, feet from home town in Nigeria’s Calabar/Ibo Bite of Niger-Delta, Angola, Ghana, Gambia; Benin Republic *Corrupt African Kings collude with Dutch, Spanish, Portuguese; British authorities to trade African men, women and children into Slavery in exchange for gifts *African Slaves cried until no tears in the eyes, separated against their will, forced to work on farms for long hours without payment, built Ellis Island in the South while in bondage; sold for 100 and 200 sterling per person ($11,630 and $23,200) in today’s money *End of the Civil War in 1865 marked the ‘official’ end to slavery-the year 13th Amendment to United States Constitution outlawing slavery *Enslaved Africans performed various jobs-from manual labor, housekeeping to skilled trades, Slaves traded or ‘rented’ out to other masters and if an enslaved person worked for someone else, his or her owner would be paid the wages-INVESTIGATION *80 percent African Americans trace one of their ancestors in family to those who arrived in Charleston-International African American Museum *Charleston city council apologizes to Black community for role in Slave trade at Juneteenth *BY GEORGE ELIJAH OTUMU/AMERICAN International Investigative Editor who was in Charleston

Historic Discovery in South Carolina!

CHARLESTON: Largest port city in America where 20 million Africans were sold inside Old Slave Mart …African slaves bound in chains mouth, feet from home town in Nigeria’s Calabar/Ibo Bite of Niger-Delta, Angola, Ghana, Gambia; Benin Republic

*Corrupt African Kings collude with Dutch, Spanish, Portuguese; British authorities to trade African men, women and children into Slavery in exchange for gifts 

*African Slaves cried until no tears in the eyes, separated against their will, forced to work on farms for long hours without payment, built Ellis Island in the South while in bondage; sold for 100 and 200 sterling per person ($11,630 and $23,200) in today’s money

*End of the Civil War in 1865 marked the ‘official’ end to slavery-the year 13th Amendment to United States Constitution outlawing slavery 

*Enslaved Africans performed various jobs-from manual labor, housekeeping to skilled trades, Slaves traded or ‘rented’ out to other masters and if an enslaved person worked for someone else, his or her owner would be paid the wages-INVESTIGATION

*80 percent African Americans trace one of their ancestors in family to those who arrived in Charleston-International African American Museum

*Charleston city council apologizes to Black community for role in Slave trade at Juneteenth

*BY GEORGE ELIJAH OTUMU/AMERICAN International Investigative Editor who was in Charleston

IN TRYING to set the true history of America’s Slave trade in the 18th Century in the right perspective, we undertook a long tourism adventure into Charleston, South Carolina to unearth the era of slavery, how Africans in their millions were forced out of their homes after leaders from Spanish, Portuguese, British and Dutch authorities reached out to greedy African Kings and traded African women, men and children as Slaves in exchange for gun, riches, alcohol and gifts, against those Africans’ choice. As at the last count, almost 20 million Africans shed their sorrows, blood, tears, as the foundation for African Americans’ freedom here in the United States. 

Even though those Africans were bound mouth, feet in chains from their home towns in Nigeria’s Calabar/Ibo Bite of Niger-Delta, Angola, Ghana, Gambia; Benin Republic forced into a waiting ship and moved to United States, the fact that corrupt and greedy African Kings were hands in-glove with the foreign leaders who invade their homes made the Africans helpless. The chained Africans cried unending, no one seemed concerned. The chained Africans cried against their forced migration until they no longer had strength to cry or tears in their eyes. These African Slaves arrived in the port city of Charleston. The city was a key port that was responsible for the sale and transport of enslaved Africans who later turned to become African Americans to other major cities in the U.S.

Charleston is known for its lush plantations, many of which you can still visit. Yet thousands of men and women who worked these plantations, did so under the harshest of conditions and paid the price for the prosperity the plantation owners enjoyed.

Known as the Ellis Island for African Americans, South Carolina now strives to tell the stories of the men and women who built the South while in bondage.

If you’re interested in learning about the history of slavery in the South, Charleston is the best city to start your education. The Port of Charleston was the largest slave port in the United States and almost 200 million enslaved Africans passed through the city. Nearly half the citizens of Charleston were enslaved before the Civil War. According to the International African American Museum, “Nearly 80 percent of African Americans can potentially trace an ancestor who arrived in Charleston.”

Slaves were sold at the Old Slave Mart (also known as Ryan’s Mart, been name of its former owner) and in the streets. A sale of an enslaved person would generally send the individual to one of three places: a home in the city of Charleston, a plantation or somewhere else in the United States.

Magnolia Plantation was home to up to 235 enslaved African Americans at one time. And that number was not uncommon. Charleston’s plantations relied on slave labor and many collapsed after the end of slavery in 1865.

It was not just plantations that owned slaves, either. Many of Charleston’s slave owners lived in the city itself. Enslaved African Americans performed a variety of jobs, from manual labor to housekeeping to skilled trades. Slaves were often traded or ‘rented’ out to other masters or bosses in the area as well. If an enslaved person worked for someone else, his or her owner would be paid the wages.

Slave life in Charleston, as it was throughout the United States was brutal. The enslaved Africans: whether they worked in the city or in the fields, were treated horrendously. They often worked long hours and were not permitted to stop until their work quota had been met for the day.

The first visual cue that slavery could be coming to an end (or at least the sale of slaves) was in 1856. In that year, the city made the slave sales on the streets illegal. Though that was the same day that the Old Slave Mart opened in the city. Slavery would then continue for nearly another 10 years.

The end of the Civil War in 1865 marked the ‘official’ end to slavery (though emancipation would not officially come until a few months later). It was in that year that the 13th Amendment to the Constitution was written, outlawing slavery. Though slavery was abolished at that time, the United States still feels the ramifications of slavery today.

The South fell into a recession after the end of slavery. Many of the buildings in Charleston that had not been destroyed in the war were leveled by an earthquake in 1886.

Naija Standard INVESTIGATION showed that the best place to start when it comes to the history of slavery in Charleston is the building where many Africans were sold when they arrived in the port city. The Old Slave Mart Museum, also known as Ryan’s Mart, was the building which show visitors the importance of Charleston’s location in the ‘Slave Triangle’ and the journey of an enslaved person from Africa to America.

This museum does a fantastic job of showing this history. It is also chilling to stand in the very spot where the fates of thousands of lives were determined and families were separated.

If you want to get an overview of slavery in Charleston or simply to fill in any gaps left by visiting a plantation or the Old Slave Mart, the Charleston Museum should be the next stop on your tour. The museum exhibits the harsh working conditions, including what life was like for children on plantations. This is a great resource to teach children about slavery in the low country.

Slavery was well established in the “New World” by the Spanish, Portuguese, British and Dutch authorities who sent African slaves to work in both North and South America during the late sixteenth and early seventeenth centuries. The English began aggressively trading in what was called “black ivory” during the middle of the seventeenth century, spurred on by the need for laborers in the hot, humid sugar fields on the West Indian islands of Barbados, St. Christopher, the Bermudas, and Jamaica.

The slave traders discovered that Carolina planters had very specific ideas concerning the ethnicity of the slaves they sought. No less a merchant than Henry Lauret wrote:

“The Slaves from the River Gambia are preferred to all others with us (here in Carolina) save the Gold Coast…. next to Them the Windward Coast are preferred to Angolas.

“In other words, slaves from the region of Senegambia and present-day Ghana were preferred. At the other end of the scale were the ‘Calabar’ or Ibo or ‘Bite’ slaves from the Niger Delta, who Carolina planters would purchase only if no others were available. In the middle were those from the Windward Coast and Angola.

“Carolina planters developed a vision of the “ideal” slave – tall, healthy, male, between the ages of 14 and 18, “free of blemishes,” and as dark as possible. For these ideal slaves Carolina planters in the eighteenth century paid, on average, between 100 and 200 sterling – in today’s money that is between $11,630 and $23,200.”

Many of these slaves were almost immediately put to work in South Carolina’s rice fields, where there was no harder, or more unhealthy, but work possible:

It was believed then that Negroes (Africans’) ankle and even mid-leg deep in water which floats an oozy mud, and exposed all the while to a burning sun which makes the very air they breathe hotter than the human blood; these poor wretches are then in a furnace of stinking putrid effluvia, which create a more horrible experience for the African Slaves.

In fact, the Carolina rice fields have been described as charnel houses for African-American slaves. Malaria and enteric diseases killed off the low country slaves at rates which are today almost unbelievable. Based on the best plantation accounts it is clear that while about one out of every three slave children on the cotton plantations died before reaching the age of 16, nearly two out of every three African-American children on rice plantations failed to reach their sixteenth birthday and over a third of all slave children died before their first birthday. Rice’s macabre record of slave deaths has been traced to two primary factors – one was malaria, the other was the infants’ feebleness at birth, probably the result of the mothers’ own chronic malaria and their general exhaustion from rice cultivation during pregnancy.

Charleston city council apologizes to Black community:

After a long and emotional council meeting, the city of Charleston, South Carolina, has formally apologized for its role in the Slave trade. Not long ago, city council members voted 7-5 in favor of a resolution that denounces slavery, acknowledges that Charleston profited greatly from slave labor and extends an apology on behalf of the city.

Around 40 percent of enslaved Africans that were brought to the United States during the Transatlantic Slave Trade entered the country through Charleston, a port city. Many of these enslaved people remained in South Carolina and Charleston “thrived under a slave economy” for nearly 200 years. Charleston’s City Hall, where vote was held, was built with slave labor in the early 19th century. 

The vote took place on Juneteenth, which marks the day, more than two years after the Emancipation Proclamation was signed, that enslaved people in Texas learned that the Civil War had ended and they were free. No one in Texas “was in a rush to inform them.” The vote also fell two days after the third anniversary of the mass murder at a church in Charleston, when nine black parishioners were shot and killed by a self-described white supremacist. The new resolution “was approved by voice vote and was met with loud cheers” by people who had gathered to watch the vote.

The two-page resolution states that “fundamental to the economy of colonial and antebellum Charleston was slave labor, Charleston prospering as it did due to the expertise, ingenuity and hard labor of enslaved Africans who were forced to endure inhumane working conditions that produced wealth for many, but which was denied to them.

The Charleston city council resolution lays out a number of actionable goals, like creating an office of racial conciliation to help heal longstanding tensions. The document also pledges to memorialize unmarked graves of African slaves, and implement policies that will encourage businesses to strive for racial equality.

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