Introduction: A Monumental Weight

The Auction Block, once located at the corner of William and Charles Streets, has been referred to throughout the years as a monument, a memorial, a sacred site, and a symbol of oppression. It is an artifact of the past and present, relevant to ongoing conversations about justice and imbued with historical significance and immense emotional weight. Associated with the sale of enslaved people, the Auction Block is a deeply difficult piece of history that often provokes intense emotional responses.

Former Slave Standing Before Old Slave Block
“Former Slave Standing Before Old Slave Block”
This image, originally captioned “The Old Slave Block – it was here that slaves were put upon the block and sold at auction,” does not include this man’s name or any further details about his life story. He represents the dozens of enslaved people sold from this corner whose names and stories have not been recovered, but who we know experienced this Block and its violent purpose. We recognize and honor them with this exhibition and throughout our work as stewards of Fredericksburg’s history.
Old Slave Block Postcard
“Old Slave Block Postcard”
The Auction Block where it stood in downtown Fredericksburg from around 1843 until June 2020. This postcard shows the Block in 1922. Like many early images of the Block, the creator of the image is unknown.