V
TRAFFIC IN SLAVES

BUYING AND SELLING

FOR THE SETTLER in the still undeveloped area which was Alabama in its formative period, property in slaves was his most cherished investment. It was investment in the most literal meaning of the term. It paid dividends--dividends in the labor of strong hands on corn and cotton field, dividends of an even more visible kind in the black-eyed, kink-headed children who came into the world to increase the planter's wealth.

Perhaps it is small wonder, then, that those who owned such investments parted with them only under great pressure of circumstance. It is significant that old records show that successful planters, like Townsend and Tait, bought slaves constantly, but almost never sold them.

The following bill of sale for slaves sold to Samuel Townsend in 1842 is typical of many among the Townsend papers:

Bill of Sale

I have this day sold to Mr. Samuel Townsend the following negroes, to wit, Jim, Tempy & child named Edmund, also Margaret & Esther and have received in consideration for said negroes, the sum of Twenty Seven Hundred and Fifty dollars and I do hereby warrant the said negroes to be sound in body and mind and the title undisputed. Given under my hand and seal this the 8th day of February, 1842.

J. J. Exum (Seal)1
Thomas V. Roberts

There are records also that Townsend sent his brothers, Thomas and Parks, to Virginia and North Carolina to buy slaves for him.

____________________
1
"Townsend Papers," in University of Alabama Library.

-141-

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