64 Parishes


The Ledger and the Chain

In conversation with Joshua Rothman

Published: May 27, 2021
Last Updated: May 27, 2021

The Ledger and the Chain
In The Ledger and the Chain, historian Joshua Rothman recounts the devastating story of the domestic slave trade by tracing the lives and careers of Isaac Franklin, John Armfield, and Rice Ballard, who built the largest and most powerful slave-trading operation in American history. Headquartered in Alexandria, Virginia, with major operations in New Orleans and Natchez, Franklin, Armfield, and Ballard built an empire on the buying and selling of thousands of men, women, and children. Although these men have largely slipped into obscurity, they were essential to American slavery’s expansion before the Civil War. Indeed, their work helped fuel the growth and prosperity of the United States itself.

On May 20, 2021, Rothman joined 64 Parishes for a conversation about his work.

Joshua D. Rothman is professor of history and chair of the Department of History at the University of Alabama. He is the author of two previous books, Notorious in the Neighborhood: Sex and Families across the Color Line in Virginia, 1787-1861, and Flush Times and Fever Dreams: A Story of Capitalism and Slavery in the Age of Jackson.

Erin M. Greenwald is vice president of public programs and editor-in-chief of 64 Parishes magazine at the Louisiana Endowment for the Humanities. Prior to joining the LEH, she served as curator of programs at the New Orleans Museum of Art and as senior curator and historian at the Historic New Orleans Collection, where she curated the award-winning exhibition Purchased Lives: The American Slave Trade from 1808 to 1865. She holds a PhD in history from Ohio State University.