William Emmons

William Emmons spent much of his early life enslaved.  Here, he describes the process of traders who bought and sold enslaved people, and they bought and sold these people for various reasons, including breeding and to take advantage of struggling plantation owners who needed extra money.

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Ole man Emmons had asked his family to never sell off any of the [   ] if they could help it, and never to sell any of them to [   ] traders. The traders were looked on as low, and they treated folks badly. Why I’ve seen slave traders buy up women and men for the purpose of breeding them just like animals, and they’d beat them if they didn’t do what they expected of them. The slave traders wanted strong children for work hands and they were all the time figuring to get a strong woman to carry out the plan for raising children that would sell really good. They would keep them and feed them for a few years and then sell them off to the highest bidder. There is no decency in such folks as them. 

Slavery was worse than most people could imagine, at best. The [   ] traders used to travel all over the country sometimes and buy up slaves from plantation owners who were almost ready to go down in debt. I’ve seen men chained together, and women being carried in wagons with their babies. Just taking them to market for sale like cattle.     

Formerly enslaved person
Birth Year (Age)Interviewer
WPA Volunteer
Enslaver’s Name
William Emmons1845 (93)UnknownRoy EmmonsRiggs
Interview LocationResidence StateBirth Location
Springfield, OHOhioNicholas, KY
Themes & KeywordsAdditional Tags:
EconomicsFirst person, slave traders