Date of Award


Document Type


Degree Name

Master of Arts



First Advisor

Dr. W. Harrison Daniel

Second Advisor

Dr. William Thorn

Third Advisor

Dr. R. Barry Westin


On the eve of the Civil War, Richmond had developed into the largest market in the Upper South for the purchase of slaves. This thesis examines the individuals responsible for putting the city into such a pre-eminent position. Many of them gravitated to the business because of the opportunity to amass a significant amount of wealth. Those who became most successful were among the city's wealthiest residents, while traders as a whole became a close knit and well defined group within the city. They relied upon one another to foster the trade, while a few of their number assumed prominent roles in the city government. The traders were accepted into the wider society, contrary to their traditional stereotype.

This thesis relies primarily upon such sources as the business records of traders, the correspondence of speculators and their customers, slave narratives, travel accounts,. census records, newspaper accounts, city directories, court records, city council minutes, tax records, and wills.

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