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Slave Shackles, c. 1850
Slave Shackles, c. 1850
Resource Typeimage
TitleSlave Shackles, c. 1850
Coverage / YearMid-nineteenth century
DescriptionPlantation owners and overseers used heavy iron shackles to punish and humiliate defiant slaves, both men and women and especially those who tried to run away. Slaves who had been sold were also shackled while being moved to another location. Arm and leg shackles were the most common type of restraints, but stocks, neck collars, and the ball and chain were also used. This pair of iron leg shackles is typical of the kind used on Southern plantation during the mid-nineteenth century.(Copy from the Chicago Historical Society). These shackles are on display in the Chicago Historical Society exhibit, "A House Divided."
InterpretationRestraints used on slaves were similar to those used on prisoners. They took the form of leg irons, hand irons, or metal collars. Sometimes a leg iron was attached to a heavy ball by a chain. The shackles shown here are of the Darby type, with barrel locks. The Darby style was first made by the Hiat Company in the late eighteenth century. The Chicago Historical Society's Web site is at Another slave shackle can be seen at the Kansas State Historical Society's Web site,
Lesson Plans / ThemesAntebellum Society and the Civil War; The Underground Railroad
Learning Standards15 Economics; 16 History; 17 Geography; 18 Social systems
Author or CreatorIllinois Heritage Association; Chicago Historical Society
SourceChicago Historical Society collection
Subject / KeywordsSlavery; Handcuffs; Stocks (Punishment); Fugitive slaves; Collars; Civil War
Collection PublisherIllinois Heritage Association
Further InformationFor any further information related to this record, please contact the Collection Publisher. See for more information about this project.
Rights Management Statement
Resource IdentifierIHA00147
CONTENTdm file name3433218432002_AHD010, -wrist-shackles.jpg
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