In 1859, at the largest recorded slave auction in American history, over 400 men, women, and children were sold by the Butler Plantation estates. This book is one of the first to analyze the operation of this auction and trace the lives of slaves before, during, and after their sale. Immersing herself in the personal papers of the Butlers, accounts from journalists that witnessed the auction, genealogical records, and oral histories, Anne C. Bailey weaves together a narrative that brings the auction to life. Demonstrating the resilience of African American families, she includes interviews from the living descendants of slaves sold on the auction block, showing how the memories of slavery have shaped people's lives today. Using the auction as the focal point, The Weeping Time is a compelling and nuanced narrative of one of the most pivotal eras in American history, and how its legacy persists today.
Table of Contents
Part I. The Breach: 1. The weeping time; 2. The auction and American history; Part II. Linked Fates: 3. Pierce Butler and his grandfather's legacy; 4. Mr. and Mrs. Butler; 5. More than 'hands': African rhythms and work on the Butler plantations; 6. Faith on the Butler estates; 7. A family divided; a nation divided; Part III. Healing the Breach: 8. Reconstruction and reconnecting threads; 9. Out of the silence: descendants restore family names; Epilogue: History and the democratization of memory; Appendix; Index.