Eyre Crowe travelled through America with W. M. Thackeray in 1852-1853.
Scene is on 8th Street in Richmond, Virginia. In center of picture is horse drawn cart carrying negro women, one woman giving baby to man standing outside back of cart. In background upper section can be seen part of the Virginia State Capitol Building. To the left are more slaves lined up and carrying bundles on their shoulders or head. In foreground, right, are two white men in top hats dickering over sale.
Eyre Crowe, an English artist touring America, painted this scene in Richmond, Virginia, one of the South’s leading centers of the slave trade. The painting depicts a group of slaves being loaded onto a cart for their journey south. This was a familiar scene in the antebellum period, when a million slaves were sold from older states like Virginia, where tobacco cultivation was in decline, to the growing Cotton Kingdom of Alabama, Georgia, Mississippi, Arkansas, and Texas. In Crowe’s 1893 memoir he recalled: After the sales, we saw the usual exodus of negro slaves, marched under escort of their new owners across the town to the railroad station where they took places and ‘went South.’ They held scanty bundles of clothing, their only possessions. These were the scenes which in a very short number of years, made one realize the sources of the fiercest of Civil Wars.