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Chapter 5 - Manchester Slave Docks

In the East End of Richmond just below the fall line on the south side of the James River, a hundred miles from the ocean, the fresh waters of the mountains and the piedmont rolled down commingling with the flat tidal waters of the coastal plain at the Manchester docks.

 

The docks developed into a major port for slave ships in the first half of the nineteenth century. . . . Virginia had more slaves to sell than any other state, and by the 1840s, large quantities of human “goods” were shipped out of Richmond, and selling people became Richmond’s biggest business.

 

Built on bondage before the outbreak of the Civil War, Richmond was the East Coast’s leading exporter of slaves, trafficking hundreds of human beings “down the river” each month.

 

Nothing was left of the Manchester docks except for a granite-block seawall built after the Civil War.

 

Fattah gazed the short distance over to the river’s north bank, thick with overhanging trees.

 

"And look at that cursed monument.” He pointed across the James and up to Church Hill at the Confederate Soldiers and Sailors Monument, a pillar poking out above the tree canopy.

 

“In St. John’s Church on that hill, Patrick Henry said, ‘Is life so dear, or peace so sweet, as to be purchased at the price of chains and slavery? . . . Forbid it, Almighty God—I know not what course others may take; but as for me, give me liberty, or give me death!’”

U.S. Domestic Slave Trade

Richmond Slave Trail

St. John's Church