Get Your Free Audiobook

Listen with a free trial

1 credit a month to use on any title, yours to keep (you’ll use your first credit on this title).
Stream or download thousands of included titles.
Access to exclusive deals and discounts.
$16.45 a month after 30 day trial. Cancel anytime.
Buy Now for $29.75

Buy Now for $29.75

Pay using card ending in
By confirming your purchase, you agree to Audible's Conditions Of Use and Privacy Notice and authorise Audible to charge your designated credit card or another available credit card on file.

Publisher's Summary

An award-winning historian reveals the harrowing forgotten story of America's internal slave trade - and its role in the making of America.

Slave traders are peripheral figures in most histories of American slavery. But these men - who trafficked and sold over half a million enslaved people from the Upper South to the Deep South - were essential to slavery's expansion and fueled the growth and prosperity of the United States.

In The Ledger and the Chain, acclaimed historian Joshua D. Rothman recounts the shocking 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. Far from social outcasts, they were rich and widely respected businessmen, and their company sat at the center of capital flows connecting southern fields to northeastern banks. Bringing together entrepreneurial ambition and remorseless violence toward enslaved people, domestic slave traders produced an atrocity that forever transformed the nation.

PLEASE NOTE: When you purchase this title, the accompanying PDF will be available in your Audible Library along with the audio.  

©2021 Joshua D. Rothman (P)2021 Basic Books

Critic Reviews

"Tremendous.... [The Ledger and the Chain] intertwines a careful biography of a very successful business with unflinching attention to the monstrosity that business was built upon.” (Slate)

"In smoothly readable prose and with an unflinching moral eye, Rothman uses the biographies of a few key players to investigate the internal slave trade of America in the years before the Civil War." (Christian Science Monitor)

“Slave traders aren’t often called out by name, and therefore are subjected to little accountability. But Rothman shines a light on how these human traffickers were responsible for crimes against humanity, the sale of over half a million enslaved people among them.” (Fortune

What listeners say about The Ledger and the Chain

Average Customer Ratings

Reviews - Please select the tabs below to change the source of reviews.

No Reviews are Available
Sort by:
Filter by:
  • Overall
    3 out of 5 stars
  • Performance
    4 out of 5 stars
  • Story
    3 out of 5 stars
Profile Image for Jack
  • Jack
  • 03-08-2021

Hyper editorialized

The historical chronicle is damaging enough to the reputation of the domestic slave traders. This otherwise well researched and interesting book is held back by too many editorial comments, assumptions of will or emotion, and unconcealed political appeals made to a subset of modern readers.

1 person found this helpful

  • Overall
    2 out of 5 stars
  • Performance
    3 out of 5 stars
  • Story
    1 out of 5 stars
Profile Image for drew
  • drew
  • 25-07-2021

Unfortunately really boring

It literally is a ledger on people’s names that participated. I love history but it’s gotta be more interesting.

1 person found this helpful

In the spirit of reconciliation, Audible Australia acknowledges the Traditional Custodians of country throughout Australia and their connections to land, sea and community. We pay our respect to their elders past and present and extend that respect to all Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander peoples today.