Powerful abolition broadside

William S. Dorr Pr[inter], SLAVE MARKET OF AMERICA. New York: American Anti-Slavery Society, 1836.
Large pictorial broadside, 28 1/8”h x 22”w at sheet edge. Several lines of headline type plus 8 inset illustrations and inset plan of Washington, DC.

A remarkable illustrated broadside highlighting the hypocrisy of the Washington, D.C. slave trade, published during a campaign for abolition in the national capital.

The broadside features eight scenes of slaving activity in the national capital plus a small map showing the relative positions of the U.S. Capitol and the Public Prison.  The images are complemented by explanatory text describing slaving activities in Washington, set against extensive quotations from the Bible, the Declaration of Independence and the United States Constitution. At the bottom base is a list of the voters on the resolution of Henry L. Pinckney of South Carolina to table all resolutions on the subject of slavery.

The Library of Congress provides some context and describes its impression as follows:

“The work was issued during the 1835-36 petition campaign, waged by moderate abolitionists led by Theodore Dwight Weld and buttressed by Quaker organizations, to have Congress abolish slavery in the capital. The text contains arguments for abolition and an accounting of atrocities of the system. At the top are two contrasting scenes: a view of the reading of the Declaration of Independence, captioned “The Land of the Free,” with a scene of slaves being led past the capitol by an overseer, entitled “The Home of the Oppressed.” Between them is a plan of Washington with insets of a suppliant slave … and a fleeing slave with the legend “$200 Reward” and implements of slavery. On the next line are views of the jail in Alexandria, the jail in Washington with the “sale of a free citizen to pay his jail fees,” and an interior of the Washington jail with imprisoned slave mother Fanny Jackson and her children. On the bottom level are an illustration of slaves in chains emerging from the slave house of J.W. Neal & Co. (left), a view of the Alexandria waterfront with a ship loading slaves (center), and a view of the slave establishment of Franklin & Armfield in Alexandria.”

The abolition campaign was unsuccessful, and slavery continued in the national capital until President Lincoln signed the District of Columbia Compensated Emancipation Act in April 1862.

An excellent example of this broadside sold for $6240 at Swann in 2007 and another (with “archival repairs on verso”) in 2000 for $5290, also at Swann. Some years ago I handled a variant edition with the same imprints but lacking the list of voters at the bottom.

Reilly, American Political Prints, #1836-23. Rinderknecht, American Imprints, #35726. OCLC 191248918 and 299944413 record holdings in 15 American institutions.


Washed and lined some time in recent years, with traces of soiling, minor mends, restoration to areas of loss, and some facsimile to four letters of the title and two areas along the vertical fold. Lined on verso.