EDITOR: In 1808, the United States Congress banned the importation of slaves from Africa. At the same time, the high price of cotton and the development of the cotton gin caused the demand for slave labor to skyrocket in the lower South. The domestic slave trade grew to meet this demand. Over the next 50 years, slave traders forcibly transferred hundreds of thousands of enslaved people from the upper South to Alabama and the lower South. Between 1808 and 1860, the enslaved population of Alabama grew from less than 40,000 to more than 435,000. Alabama had one of the largest slave populations in America at the start of the Civil War. Over time Montgomery became one of the most important slave trading communities in the United States.
Here, in downtown Montgomery, in a former warehouse used to keep slaves for auction, is the Legacy Museum
It is inconspicuous. But it contains the tragic history of the slave trade in the United States. The museum shows this cruel history from early times up to Martin Luther King Jr. and Gov. George Wallace, whose inaugural speech was written by the leader of the Ku Klux Klan.
The Legacy Museum describes civil rights not only in Montgomery but other places in the U.S. It is a stark reminder of one class of people persecuting another. And for those of us who believe lynching was confined to the South there is a sculpture dedicated to three men who were lynched in downtown Duluth on June 15, 1920.