John Armfield was an American slave trader who operated during the 19th century. He was born in 1797 in Virginia and entered the slave trade business at a young age. Along with his business partner Isaac Franklin, Armfield founded the slave trading firm Franklin and Armfield, which became one of the largest and most successful slave-trading enterprises in the United States.
Armfield’s role in the company involved overseeing the transportation of enslaved people from the Upper South, including states like Virginia, Kentucky, and Maryland, to the Deep South, including states like Louisiana, Mississippi, and Alabama. The company would purchase enslaved people at low prices in the Upper South and then sell them for much higher prices in the Deep South. Armfield was known for his brutal treatment of enslaved people and his willingness to separate families to maximize profits.
Armfield was also involved in the forced migration of tens of thousands of enslaved people. He oversaw the transportation of enslaved people on ships that were often overcrowded and inhumane, resulting in many deaths during the journey. His actions and those of his company contributed to the perpetuation of slavery in the United States and the mistreatment and exploitation of enslaved people.
After the outbreak of the Civil War in 1861, Armfield’s trading operations were disrupted, and he fled to Canada to avoid prosecution for his involvement in the slave trade. He later returned to the United States and settled in Alexandria, Virginia, where he lived until his death in 1871.
Armfield’s legacy is a complicated one, as he was responsible for perpetuating one of the most brutal and inhumane practices in American history. His actions and those of his company have had a lasting impact on the lives of enslaved people and their descendants and serve as a reminder of the horrific atrocities committed during the era of slavery in the United States.