These graphs break down the numbers of enslaved migrants from Virginia in different ways.
“Virginia is the mother of slavery.”
Louis Hughes made this observation in his 1897 autobiography–where he described being sold away from his family in Virginia to Memphis, Tennessee. Virginia in fact represented some 45% of the total number of enslaved African Americans forced to move across state lines between 1790 and 1860: 550,000 from Virginia out of 1.1 million total forced migrants. In early decades Virginia’s share was the clear majority:
As the United States seized western and southern lands from Indian nations and opened them up to American settlement, planters, traders, and bankers expanded and shifted the slave market to supply the vast numbers of laborers they demanded to transform forests and swamps into cotton and sugar plantations. This graph indicates the shifting destinations of enslaved African Americans from Virginia. For each decade, the numbers represent Virginia’s “export” divided according to each “import” state’s proportion of the overall slave market:
Tidewater, Piedmont, Valley, West
These graphs represent the shifting participation of each of Virginia’s sub-regions in the slave market. First net numbers, then rates (numbers below 0 represent in-migration to that region):
Breaking each sub-region down a bit further, we can see that the northern Tidewater dominated in the early decades, while the southern Piedmont overtook it in the 1830s.
Here’s another way to see it, with each region and subregion shown as a proportion of the whole for each decade:
All graphs copyright 2017 © Phillip Troutman. Unaltered non-commercial use is granted, with acknowledgement. Cite as Phillip Troutman, “Graphing Virginia’s Slave Trade, 1790-1860,” Virginia’s Slave Trade blog, virginiaslavetrade.wordpress.com (your access date).