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The Business of Slavery and the Rise of American Capitalism, 1815-1860$
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Calvin Schermerhorn

Print publication date: 2015

Print ISBN-13: 9780300192001

Published to Yale Scholarship Online: September 2015

DOI: 10.12987/yale/9780300192001.001.0001

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“The Most Notorious of the Baltimore Negro-Buyers”

“The Most Notorious of the Baltimore Negro-Buyers”

Chapter:
(p.33) 2 “The Most Notorious of the Baltimore Negro-Buyers”
Source:
The Business of Slavery and the Rise of American Capitalism, 1815-1860
Author(s):

Calvin Schermerhorn

Publisher:
Yale University Press
DOI:10.12987/yale/9780300192001.003.0002

The interstate slave trade surged in the 1820s, creating opportunities for interstate traders while presenting significant challenges in terms of transportation, finance, and supply chain management. This chapter charts the rise and decline of Austin Woolfolk and his firm, which was the most successful and notorious slave-trading enterprise of the 1820s. Woolfolk advertised relentlessly, made his name into a brand, and grew his firm from a small Baltimore-based concern to an interlocking partnership with agencies in Baltimore, Maryland’s Eastern Shore, and New Orleans. He booked space aboard ships to transport enslaved people, and some ships that delivered slaves to New Orleans also delivered cotton to Liverpool. That commerce fit exquisitely with the commercial orientation of Baltimore shippers, and consequently Woolfolk became a business insider, fending off antislavery activists and abolitionist critics. Woolfolk partnered with buyers and sellers in strategic locations, shipping hundreds of enslaved people from the Chesapeake to the lower Mississippi Valley for sale, driving out competitors and rationalizing the interstate slave trade.

Keywords:   Austin Woolfolk, Maritime commerce, Slave trading, Advertising, Abolitionists, Maryland slavery

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