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Explore the Constellation

Charleston Slave Badge



Enslaved people had to wear these badges while hired out in Charleston.

From 1800 to 1865, the government of Charleston, South Carolina required enslaved Black people to wear badges when their labor was leased out. Enslavers purchased the badges as part of the leased labor system. Slave badges were for various positions including servants, porters, fruiters, fishers, and mechanics.​​

​​​The slave badge and leased labor systems provided profit for enslavers and the government. In some instances, it enabled enslaved Black people to earn money to secure freedom for themselves or their loved ones.​​

​​​Mechanics were highly skilled builders and craftsmen. Their labor and knowledge created the historic urban Charleston landscape. The identity of the enslaved person who wore badge number 248 is unknown.​​