Episode 17 – The Price of Beauty

“At home, at work, but never at liberty” reads one of the signs at Hampton Plantation State Historic Site.

Even though we know that most of us hail from European cultures that also had systems of serfdom, it would be easy to forget the human cost of systems where people “own” other people when touring South Carolina’s beautiful plantation homes and their sprawling lands, were it not for the excellent job of reminding us that the park rangers and interpretive signs do to bring it to the forefront.

I’ll let the photos from today’s experience tell the story.

The great house. The original 6 room house built over a span of 7 years in the 1740’s, and then doubled in size and the interior “flipped” back to front in honour of a visit by George Washington in 1791. Every beam and board that was hand cut, all the bricks made on the grounds, the lathe and plastered walls and ceilings (a 13 foot high curved ballroom ceiling), the brick lined fireplaces in every room with carved mantles, and the hundreds of feet of decorative crown moldings, were all done by slaves.
The kitchen building, with an interior well, has been taken over by a colony of endangered large eared bats, so is no longer open for tours.
A portion of the rice growing area. Ironically, rice was brought to America by captured Africans, who originally grew it to supplement their subsistence diets. Once plantation owners saw the potential for profit, they put their slaves to work growing it for worldwide sale.

Incredibly emotional – and disturbing – to see in black and white the list of how much each human slave was “worth”. After emancipation, the plantation owners had neither the knowledge nor the manpower to keep the Carolina rice plantations viable.

8 comments

  1. Not having good time.  Anne back in hospital with some serious infection.  They had to reopen the incision from her broken leg and clean all the infection out.  Not sure when she is coming nome.  Sure wish we were in Myrtle Beach!

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  2. Rose, it reminds me of the impact that our visit to the Shirley Plantation has on us both. But remind me about the front and back being reversed because of a visit of some sort ; it seems to me we have been there before… I recall something about the Shirley out at the side…
    B.

    I am doing better and had a good day. But as you can tell from the time stamp of my message, I am up for tea in the middle of the night with an unsettled stomach…

    Sent from my iPhone

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  3. Rose, I love the way you take us with you on the trips. You involve us visually and emotionally!!
    Such a sad, horrific period of time. And to think it was the norm! Christine, a friend of mine said
    « There is only the Human Race » no entitlement for anyone.
    You SEE things most of us don’t!

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  4. As I was reading, the word poignant kept popping into my head. I looked it up. Your blog is so poignant! You are amazing!

    Sent from my iPad

    >

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  5. Thanks for reminding me! Yes, Shirley too started out “facing” the river because that’s how guests arrived and then was flipped for an important visitor who was going to arrive by land…. Thomas Jefferson maybe? Wonder if that’s where the idea of turning the house upside down for guests came from?

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  6. Glad to have found you in Renaissance – quite a surprise!! Our Christmas Letter to you was returned. Now we’ll know how to keep in touch! Remember to come, visit when passing by.

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