Georgia Historical Society to Commemorate “The Weeping Time,” The Largest Slave Sale in US History, with Two Events This Weekend

Savannah, Ga., February 26, 2019 –  The Georgia Historical Society invites the media and the public to attend two events this weekend commemorating the 160th anniversary of “The Weeping Time,” the largest slave sale in recorded American history.

The History of the Weeping Time

In 2008 the Georgia Historical Society and the City of Savannah erected a historical marker near the site of the race course where the sale took place.

From the marker text: One of the largest sales of enslaved persons in U.S. history took place on March 2-3, 1859, at the Ten Broeck Race Course (in Savannah)…. To satisfy his creditors, Pierce M. Butler sold 436 men, women, and children from his Butler Island and Hampton plantations near Darien, Georgia. The breakup of families and the loss of home became part of African-American heritage remembered as “the weeping time.” The event was reported extensively in the northern press and reaction to the sale deepened the nation’s growing sectional divide in the years immediately preceding the Civil War.

On Saturday, March 2, 2019, at 10:00 a.m., GHS, in partnership with Oceans, Inc. (Organization to Commemorate Enslaved African American Nationals), Journey By FaithIvory Bay Community Development CorporationOtis J. Brock III Elementary SchoolSolomon Temple Church of God In Christ, and Gullah Geechee Cultural Heritage Corridor Commission, will hold a public program at Otis J. Brock Elementary School, located at 1804 Stratford Street in Savannah. To recall torrential rain that reportedly fell throughout the sale in 1859, the public is invited to bring umbrellas to Saturday’s event in order to participate in a moment remembance.

On Sunday, March 3, at 2:00 p.m., the Georgia Historical Society, along with the Vanderkloot Fund and the Lower Altamaha Historical Society, will dedicate a new historical marker on Butler Island in Darien, Georgia. The dedication site is along US Highway 17/Scenic Coastal Highway on Butler Island, in front of the Huston house. The historical marker relays the story of the enslaved people who labored under Pierce M. Butler at Butler Island and were later sold during the Weeping Time to settle Butler’s debts. Speakers include the Georgia Historical Society’s Dr. W. Todd Groce and Lower Altamaha Historical Society’s Wes Tippins and Eunice Moore.

For more information regarding this weekend’s events, please visit the GHS event calendar. Members of the media should contact Patricia Meagher, GHS Director of Communications at (912) 651-2125, ext. 153 or by email at