Was it was the day after Thanksgiving when slave traders would sell slaves for a discount to assist plantation owners with more helpers for the upcoming winter hence the name …
“Black Friday” is the term for the phenomenon that takes place in the U.S. on the day after Thanksgiving Thursday, when millions of consumers who get the day off from work or school crowd into stores for what is traditionally considered the beginning of the Christmas shopping season.
In recent years, the myth has surfaced that gives a particularly ugly twist to the tradition, claiming that back in the 1800s Southern plantation owners could buy slaves at a discount on the day after Thanksgiving. Though this version of Black Friday’s roots has understandably led some to call for a boycott of the retail holiday, it has no basis in fact.
The origins of the term “Black Friday” have become somewhat obscured in the mists of time, leading people to invent fanciful explanations for how that phrase became attached to the day after Thanksgiving.
The true story behind Black Friday, however, is not as sunny as retailers might have you believe. Back in the 1950s, police in the city of Philadelphia used the term to describe the chaos that ensued on the day after Thanksgiving, when hordes of suburban shoppers and tourists flooded into the city in advance of the big Army-Navy football game held on that Saturday every year. Not only would Philly cops not be able to take the day off, but they would have to work extra-long shifts dealing with the additional crowds and traffic. Shoplifters would also take advantage of the bedlam in stores to make off with merchandise, adding to the law enforcement headache.
The first recorded use of the term “Black Friday” was applied not to holiday shopping but to the financial crisis: specifically, the crash of the U.S. gold market on September 24, 1869. Two notoriously ruthless Wall Street financiers, Jay Gould and Jim Fisk, worked together to buy up as much as they could of the nation’s gold, hoping to drive the price sky-high and sell it for astonishing profits. On that Friday in September, the conspiracy finally unraveled, sending the stock market into free-fall and bankrupting everyone from Wall Street barons to farmers.