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Their home still stands at the corner of Saundersville Road and Lower Station Camp Road, about halfway between Gallatin and Hendersonville — now suburbs linked to Nashville by sprawl and interstates, then villages quite a way from town.
Isaac, his four brothers, and five sisters were born in that house.
Isaac Franklin was born in Sumner County, just north of Nashville, in 1789.
His parents had survived Indian attacks on Mansker’s Station north of town in 1781 — a station was a privately owned fort — and fought at the Battle of the Bluffs when American Indians attacked Nashville in April of that same year.
“I’ll give you 0 for the tall one over there,” he says.
“Gentlemen,” Franklin snorts, “that’s a buying price, not a selling price.” The man will bring eight to nine hundred dollars in Mississippi.
From historical accounts of such marches, notably George William Featherstonhaugh’s “Excursion Through the Slave States” and Edward Baptist’s “The Half Has Never Been Told: Slavery and the Making of American Capitalism,” the picture comes into focus. The haunted-looking women try to keep the spirits of the children up, but every night brings new horror. Franklin and the three other white men traveling with him take women off into the brush. And they all know that, when Franklin’s captives get to Natchez, whatever hell they’ve faced on the road — the beatings, the rapes, the forced marches — will seem like the good old days.
They hired Isaac to travel with the goods, through all those uncivilized places — the woods, the river, Indian territory.
Franklin passed vast fertile lands on his trips, lands with easy access to the port of New Orleans.
This was land that would need hundreds of men to clear. Franklin realized he could make a fortune selling black men to the white men who wanted to put cotton in Mississippi, and black women to the white men who would leave their wives back in civilization.
He and his nephew, John Armfield, headquartered their operation in Alexandria, Virginia, and they began to trade.