Top Ten Videos to watch

A Man Operating A Tv Camera
Maurice White
March2Justice
'News One Now' With Roland Martin Taping
Bill Cosby
Activists In Los Angeles Gather To Burn Likenesses Of The Confederate Flag
Flint Firebirds V Windsor Spitfires
CBC Message To America: Rep. Conyers Addresses The Damage Inflicted On Our Communities By Poverty, Mass Incarceration And Lack Of Economic Development
Iowa Caucus Ted Cruz
NewsOne Now NAACP Image Awards Preview
Student sitting at a desk in a classroom
Slavery Stock image
The 16th Annual Wall Street Project Gala Fundraising Reception
Ava DuVernay
Roland Martin Blasts Stacey Dash For Comments About BET, Black Networks
President Obama Delivers State Of The Union Address At U.S. Capitol
Ava DuVernay
2016 North American International Auto Show
Democratic National Committee Presidential Primary Debate
88th Oscars Nominations Announcement
Democratic debate
Dream Speech
GOP Presidential Candidates Debate In Charleston
US President Barack Obama speaks on the
24593149
2011 Winter TCA Tour - Day 5
LOS ANGELES, CA - FEBRUARY 18, 2015: Two wooden stand-in Oscar statuettes are ready to be taken on
Woman Holding Dollars - Isolated
President Barack Obama Delivers His State Of The Union Address
Leave a comment

In a district where young professionals live in airy lofts and flock to trendy restaurants and clubs, historians are intent on revealing the buried remnants of Richmond’s bustling slave-trading past.

Construction equipment began digging this week in Shockoe Bottom at the former site of Lumpkin’s Slave Jail, an infamous stop in the former Confederate capitol’s once-thriving commerce in enslaved men, women and children.

The Richmond Slave Trail Commission is attempting to link key stops in slavery’s footprint — from a James River port where slaves were transported to an old, long-forgotten burial ground and, ultimately, the former site of Lumpkin’s Jail. The ambitious project aims to explore the legacy of slavery and the Civil War beyond heroic memorials to Confederate leaders that were erected in the city.

“We’ve had to take bits and pieces to put the story together, to get a better understanding of a culture, of a time,” said Councilwoman Delores L. McQuinn, who chairs the 12-member city panel.

The Lumpkin project will probe 5 to 10 feet deep in an area approximately 180-by-80 feet. The $200,000 undertaking, financed primarily by the city, will be completed in about two months. Artifacts from the dig will be held by the state.

“We want to find as much of the complex as we can,” said archaeologist Matthew R. Laird, who studied old city records to locate the jail. “We’re hopeful we’ll find evidence of the jail.”

Lumpkin’s Jail was named after Robert Lumpkin, who was known as a “bully trader” for his rough tactics. One historical account of Lumpkin’s Slave Jail told of the “whipping room.”

“The individual would be laid down, his hands and feet stretched out and fastened in the rings, and a great big man would stand over him and flog him,” wrote Charles H. Corey, a historian and clergyman who witnessed the events.

While Lumpkin left no records of his business, Laird said he had a “reputation as being sort of a shady figure” in an economy that would be expected to produce nothing less.

“They knew they were trafficking in human misery, but somebody had to do it,” he said.

Today, Shockoe Bottom mixes the modern with the old — former tobacco warehouses converted into pricey condos and lofts and graceful antebellum buildings where fusion food is served on linen tablecloths.

But there is little physical evidence of the city’s slave-trading days.

By some estimates, the former Confederate capital saw 300,000 slaves bought and sold from 1808, when the U.S. banned the international slave trade, to the end of the Civil War. That would rank Richmond second only to New Orleans in the slave trade during that period.

The site of the dig has seen much history since Lumpkin’s Jail was torn down in the 1870s. The steady hum of traffic along Interstate 95, which was built atop a portion of the site, could be heard during a ceremony Wednesday to launch the dig. A foundry and a rail building had once stood there as well. The clock tower of the city’s restored, century-old French Renaissance train station looms over the property.

In its slave-trading heyday, Shockoe Bottom brokers, buyers and plantation owners stayed at one of the many hotels and boarding houses in the area. For slaves, who may have lived as families on a plantation, a trip here was a fearful time.

“Once people wound up there, they knew they were leaving their family,” Laird said. “It was quite terrible.”

Ana Edwards, an activist who has been involved in the preservation of a historic blacks-only burial ground near the Lumpkin site, said the story of Shockoe Bottom’s slave-trading history is essential to understanding American history.

“This was a corporation, this was a business development,” Edwards said. “Slavery was the key element on which the economy was developed.”

The decline of labor-intensive crops such as tobacco led to a vast movement of slaves during the Civil War. Too many acres had been devoted to the crop and successive plantings depleted the soil, so farmers shifted to crops that no longer required slave labor. Slaves for farm labor were still needed in the Deep South.

The history of Lumpkin’s Slave Jail and its proprietor is not without some irony.

Lumpkin married a black woman, and Mary Lumpkin inherited the jail complex. She ultimately leased it to a Boston clergyman, the Rev. Nathaniel Colver, who established on the site a school for freed slaves. It is now known as Virginia Union University.

Also On News One: