Slave trade in New Orleans was a thriving business

It was a chatty group that gathered this week outside the Renaissance Pere Marquette Hotel. There was a happy buzz among the 20 or so men and women, delegates to a literary conference, as they waited for their guide to start their walking tour.

Then Walter Johnson, their leader, started talking about the subject of the excursion, and the mood quickly grew somber. For Johnson was talking about the business of buying and selling human beings that used to pervade the area where these people stood.

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