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NEW ORLEANS (AP) — As New Orleans celebrates its 300th birthday, efforts are underway to take a harder look at one aspect of The Big Easy’s history: its role as the largest slave market in the Deep South.

Two different groups plan to install markers explaining the city’s connection with the slave trade, a role that grew when Congress ended the transatlantic slave trade in 1808, The New Orleans Advocate reported .

The practice of selling slaves in New Orleans was nearly a century old by the time the city became part of the United States in 1803. But with no new slaves arriving from Africa, slaves were forcibly moved from states like Maryland and Virginia to the Deep South. Geography made New Orleans the biggest market for the victims of the forced migration, given its location on the Gulf Coast and along the Mississippi River. Many slaves were then taken to sugar plantations in southern Louisiana or cotton plantations further north.

An estimated 135,000 people were brought and sold in New Orleans between 1804 and 1862, University of Alabama professor Joshua Rothman said.

The New Orleans Committee to Erect Historic Markers on the Slave Trade has already placed markers at the Moonwalk along the Mississippi River and at the intersection of Esplanade Avenue and Chartres Street.

New Orleans joins a league of cities beginning to publicly reckon with their slavery-tainted past, historian Freddi Williams Evans, a committee chair, said.

Meanwhile, the Tricentennial Commission-affiliated New Orleans Slave Trade Marker and App Project plans to place six markers at sites where slaves were traded. Committee member Erin M. Greenwald, another historian, says an app will provide an audio tour of the sites.

While the precise locations of the markers haven’t been announced, two markers are planned for the Central Business District, three for the French Quarter and one in Faubourg Marigny. The committee hopes to have them in place by the end of July.


Information from: The New Orleans Advocate,