Isaac Franklin, Slave Trader

Is your surname Franklin?

Research the Franklin family

Isaac Franklin, Slave Trader's Geni Profile

Share your family tree and photos with the people you know and love

  • Build your family tree online
  • Share photos and videos
  • Smart Matching™ technology
  • Free!


Isaac Franklin

Birthdate: (56)
Death: April 27, 1846 (56)
Place of Burial: Mount Olivet Cemetery Nashville Davidson County Tennessee
Immediate Family:

Son of James Franklin, a longhunter and Mary Franklin
Husband of Adelicia Acklen
Father of Victoria Franklin; Julius Caesar Franklin and Emma Franklin
Brother of John W Franklin; Anna Wood; Margaret "Peggy" Allen; James Franklin, Jr.; Jane Franklin and 5 others

Managed by: Private User
Last Updated:

About Isaac Franklin, Slave Trader

Isaac Franklin, born May 26, 1789; died 1846. He married Adelicia Hayes Abt. 1839.

Isaac Franklin was an American slave trader and planter. He was born on May 26, 1789 at "Pilot Knob" Plantation on Station Camp Creek in Sumner County, Tennessee.

Father was Capt. James Franklin of Baltimore, Maryland and mother was Mary Lauderdale, the daughter of James Maitland Lauderdale, James Franklin's employer. James Franklin moved with Mary to East Tennessee as a "Long Hunter" (pre-cursers to the Mountain Men of the Rockies) in the 1770s for trapping and exploration. He participated in the Revolutionary War and was listed by General James Robertson as one of the "Immortal Seventy" who received and was granted 640 acres (2.6 km2) of land by the state of North Carolina.

This land was prosperous for James Franklin and upon his death in 1828; he left his family with a sizable legacy. James Franklin held that as each of his sons reached "his majority, he presented them with a horse, a bridle and a pocket knife."[1] When Isaac was 21 years old, he received his share and with the knife, he carved a ship miniature which he sold to a friend for one dollar. According to Kenneth Thomson, that was how he made his first dollar and 15 years later he would be a millionaire. At the age of 21, Isaac entered the business world with his older brothers, James [Jr.] and John. Isaac's job was to transport raw products by flatboat to New Orleans where they were sold and the processed goods were returned to Sumner County. During this position, Mr. Franklin was introduced to the slave trade and life on southern plantations.

In 1812, Isaac Franklin served in the war with a rank of major.

From 1812-1841, Isaac Franklin acquired an estate valued at more than one million dollars. His large holdings were first made in Sumner County, TN. Once Fairvue was finished he turned towards Louisiana where he purchased six plantations called "Bellevue", "Killarney", "Lochlomond", "Angola", "Loango" and "Panola". Along with these purchases, he gathered thousands of acres of land in Texas. As he acquired his wealth, he also gained holdings in a turnpike he owned, bank stock, and a third interest in the Nashville Race Course.

The slave trade was referred to as "The Business" in the early 19th century as Isaac Franklin began to cut his teeth in the trade. In 1808, the foreign slave trade was abolished and thus domestic slave trade increased dramatically. Isaac Franklin formed a partnership with his nephew, through marriage, John Armfield. From 1828 to 1837, they became the leading business in domestic slave trade. They set up their business in Alexandria, DC (today, Virginia) where they bought as many as 500 slaves at a time.

As slaves were sold from Franklin & Armfield, there were shipped to Natchez, Mississippi where the headquarters of their business was stationed. From Natchez, Franklin & Armfield sold the slaves to southern planters. As the shipping vessels returned to Alexandria, they carried sugar, molasses, whiskey, and cotton. Business was good for Isaac Franklin when in 1835 he eased out of active participation in the business and by 1841 he was completely out of the slave trading business.

"When he died in 1846, he owned 10,000 acres (40 km2) of land in Louisiana and over 600 slaves."

At the age of 50, Isaac Franklin engaged and married Miss Adelicia Hayes in 1839. Adelicia was the daughter of Oliver Bliss Hayes and Sarah Clemmons Hightower. At the time of their marriage, Oliver Hayes was a lawyer and a Presbyterian Minister. Isaac and Adelicia had four children together: Victoria, Adelicia, Emma, and Julius Caesar. All passed away in early childhood.

[edit] Retirement

After he retired from his business with Armfield, Isaac Franklin concentrated his efforts on the management of his Tennessee and Louisiana plantations. From his point of view, the Tennessee plantation, "Fairvue," was his home. By early April 1846, the Franklins were living in one of the West Feliciana Plantations in Louisiana. It was there that Isaac Franklin died April 27, 1846. His body was preserved in the contents from three barrels worth of whiskey. Once preserved, his body was then shipped to Tennessee for burial.

After the death of his widow, Adelicia Cheatham leased and later sold the plantations in Louisiana to Samuel James who leased prisoners from the state to run them. The state acquired the merged plantations under the name Angola in 1901 and they form the core of the Angola Prison.

The African Americans who were held by Isaac Franklin viewed him poorly. Some families were spared separation because Isaac Franklin developed a reputation for "selling" people with serious health problems. It is believed that he ordered the mass burial of African Americans who he suspected of having Yellow Fever. Buyers avoided him after that. At other times, it appears he may have required the sale of entire families in order to avoid having an inventory of infants that he otherwise could not sell. Despite this reputation, it is likely that he separated more families than any other North American slaveholder. In his early trading, he purchased fathers in the Mid-Atlantic states, transported them on river boats, and re-sold them in the Deep South at higher prices. Ironically, he attempted to leave his slave holdings as property to endow a seminary in Louisiana. His wish was overturned on a technicality, because he added a condition that the African Americans and their offspring would be held in perpetuity.

Planter & slave trader. Had large landholdings in Louisiana. Married Adelicia Hayes, 1839. [This may be misidentified. Possibly a portrait of John Armfield, Franklin's slave trading partner].

view all

Isaac Franklin, Slave Trader's Timeline

May 26, 1789
Age 50
Age 54
Age 54
April 27, 1846
Age 56
Mount Olivet Cemetery Nashville Davidson County Tennessee