Great Auction-Sale of Slaves, at Savannah, Georgia

New York: Published by the American Anti-Slavery Society.

THIS little pamphlet, reprinted from the columns of the “New York Tribune,’' possesses a double interest. It furnishes the best and most minute description of an auction-sale of slaves that has ever been published; and it admirably illustrates the enterprise and prompt energy which often distinguish the journalism of America above that of any other country.

The slave-sale of which it is a record took place on the second and third days of March last, in the city of Savannah. For many reasons, it had been looked forward to with more than usual interest. The position of the owner, Mr. Pierce M. Butler, of Philadelphia, and the largo number (no less than four hundred and thirty-six) and superior quality of the human chattels offered for sale, added to the importance of the event. The “Tribune” had one of its best descriptive writers, Mr. Mortimer Thomson, on the spot. The duty Mr. Thomson undertook was not without danger; for a somewhat extensive notoriety as an attaché of the “ Tribune’' was not likely to insure him the most cordial reception at the South. Had his presence been discovered, the temper of the people of Savannah would speedily have betrayed itself; and had his purpose been suspected, their wrath would assuredly have culminated in wreakages of a nature unfavorable to his personal comfort. But with caution, and the aid of Masonic influences, he escaped detection, and accomplished his aim. The result of his observations was a report of considerable length, in which every striking incident of the sale was narrated with accurate fidelity. Although written mostly on the rail and against time, under circumstances which would be fatal to the labors of any man not inured by newspaper experience to all sorts of literary hardships, the style is clear, distinct, and often eloquent. The scene and the transaction are brought vividly to the reader’s mind. The throng of eager speculators, — the heavy-eyed and brutal drivers, — the sprightlier representatives of Chivalry,— the unhappy slaves, abandoning hope as they enter the mart, excepting in rare cases, where, grasping at straws, they pray in trembling, tones that their ties of love may remain unsevered, — the operations of the sale,— the shrinking' women, standing submissively under the vile jests of the reckless crowd,— are portrayed with all the emphasis of truth. One little episode in particular, the love-story of Jeffrey and Dorcas, is a more affecting history than romance can show.

The effect of this publication in the “Tribune” was prodigious. It was widely circulated through all the journals of the North. The Anti-Slavery Society preserved it in a pamphlet. The ire of a good portion of the Southern journals was ludicrous to witness, and proved how keenly the blow was felt. The report was republished in Great Britain—first in the London “Times,” and subsequently, as a pamphlet, in Edinburgh, in Glasgow, and in Belfast. In one publisher’s announcement, at least, it was advertised as “Greeley’s Account of the Great Slave-Sale.”