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Broad Street Site of Domestic Slave Trade

During the first half of the nineteenth
century, many buildings on Broad Street
between Church and East Bay Streets
served as auction houses and private
venues for the sale of human property.
The firm of William Payne & Sons was
likely the busiest auction house in the
Lowcountry between 1803 and 1834. At
this site, sometimes acting as agent for the
City Sheriff to collect court-ordered debts,
Payne brokered the sale of more than
9200 local enslaved people. While many
were enslaved In town, many more
worked In the surrounding countryside. Small private sales and large
auctions took place both here and wherever the enslaved lived. At his
largest sale in February 1819, Payne sold 367 enslaved human beings
belonging to the estate of planter John Ball, who were valued at
approximately $6.5 million in 2021 dollars.
Broker Thomas Hume, then Isaac Bennett and Roland Rhett tarried on
the domestic slave trade at this location after Payne's death and until
the Civil War.

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