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5 American Structures Existing Today Built By Slave Labor

The image of slavery in America often depicts weary captured Africans on antebellum plantations with sprawling fields picking cotton or tobacco under the hot sun and the watchful eye of a whip-yielding overseer.

That is the picture often sold to us in books, on television and in the movies, not a past rich in resourcefulness, entrepreneurial spirit, leadership and resistance.

labor capitol

US Capitol Building

In 2012, former Speaker of the House Nancy Pelosi joined leaders from both parties in Congress to unveil a commemorative marker in the Capitol Visitors Center to pay tribute to the Black men and women who constructed it.

Pelosi said that the marker is a memorial to the “tragedy and sin” of slavery.

According to, “The marker features a single block of sandstone, once part of the Capitol’s East Front portico, placed in reverse position so that the original chisel marks, done by those who built the building, are clearly visible.”

“For too long, the sacrifice of men and women who built this temple of democracy were overlooked; their toil forgotten; their story ignored or denied, and their voices silenced in the pages of history,” said Pelosi. reports the captured Africans were “likely involved in all aspects of construction, including carpentry, masonry, carting, rafting, plastering, glazing and painting, the task force reported. And slaves appear to have shouldered alone the grueling work of sawing logs and stones.”

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