The Slave Auction

Frances Ellen Watkins Harper

Frances Ellen Watkins Harper

A 19th century African American woman writer and abolitionist, was born to a free black family in a slave state, Maryland. Frances Watkins Harper became a teacher, an anti-slavery activist, and a writer and poet. She was also an advocate of women's rights and was a member of the American Woman Suffrage Association. The writings of Frances Watkins Harper were often focused on themes of racial justice, equality, and freedom.
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The Slave Auction

The sale began—young girls were there,

Defenseless in their wretchedness,

Whose stifled sobs of deep despair

Revealed their anguish and distress.


And mothers stood, with streaming eyes,

And saw their dearest children sold;

Unheeded rose their bitter cries,

While tyrants bartered them for gold.


And woman, with her love and truth—

For these in sable forms may dwell—

Gazed on the husband of her youth,

With anguish none may paint or tell.

The Slave Auction (cont'd.)

And men, whose sole crime was their hue,

The impress of their Maker’s hand,

And frail and shrinking children too,

Were gathered in that mournful band.


Ye who have laid your loved to rest,

And wept above their lifeless clay,

Know not the anguish of that breast,

Whose loved are rudely torn away.


Ye may not know how desolate

Are bosoms rudely forced to part,

And how a dull and heavy weight

Will press the life-drops from the heart.

Slavery Slave Auction