Feelings when visiting plantations

major bill

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#1
During various tours , vacations and such, I have visited several plantations. Some are very interesting from an architecture view and the history of the building and family who lived there is also interesting. But how should I feel about the fact the plantation was engaged in the enslavement of other humans? Perhaps I should feel about the plantations the same way I feel when visiting massacre sites, interesting from a historical point but also very sad. Is visiting plantations the same as visiting Andersonville prison camp or concentration/death camps? Perhaps visiting plantations should be more like visiting royal castles. The castles themselves are fine but sometime the dungeons are a bit intense. When I was in Paris I had to go see where 30,000 people had the heads chopped off. I have visited other grim spots such as massacre sites.

I would guess different people will have different feelings when visiting grim sites. How should one feel when visiting Andersonville? Because I helped run a prisoner of war camp and watched prisoners die, one day I almost ordered the guards to open fire on a group of prisoners but at the very last second changed my mind, so why should Andersonville have any effect on me? But should a plantation be considered a grim site?
 

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Mark F. Jenkins

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#3
I wouldn't advise "pre-setting" one's attitude when visiting a historic site. "Okay, this is the log cabin Lincoln was supposedly born in. Setting brain to *awed*"... Live the experience and think your thoughts as they come to you. If it's something you think you'll find upsetting, perhaps consider skipping it entirely... and then reconsider, because that's usually a flag that it's something you need to face. :thumbsup:
 

gem

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#4
During various tours , vacations and such, I have visited several plantations. Some are very interesting from an architecture view and the history of the building and family who lived there is also interesting. But how should I feel about the fact the plantation was engaged in the enslavement of other humans? Perhaps I should feel about the plantations the same way I feel when visiting massacre sites, interesting from a historical point but also very sad. Is visiting plantations the same as visiting Andersonville prison camp or concentration/death camps? Perhaps visiting plantations should be more like visiting royal castles. The castles themselves are fine but sometime the dungeons are a bit intense. When I was in Paris I had to go see where 30,000 people had the heads chopped off. I have visited other grim spots such as massacre sites.

I would guess different people will have different feelings when visiting grim sites. How should one feel when visiting Andersonville? Because I helped run a prisoner of war camp and watched prisoners die, one day I almost ordered the guards to open fire on a group of prisoners but at the very last second changed my mind, so why should Andersonville have any effect on me? But should a plantation be considered a grim site?
I don't think visiting a plantation and prison site like Andersonville are quite the same.

Andersonville took place in the setting of war, during the nation's darkest hour, and atrocities took place there as the rules POW treatment were often not followed.

Plantations represent a lawful part of American history. Certainly, they have a dark side due to slavery but they were a part of normal American society back then.

One could consider a plantation somewhat akin to a royal castle, which display both the best and the worst of those times.
 

jgoodguy

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#5
I wouldn't advise "pre-setting" one's attitude when visiting a historic site. "Okay, this is the log cabin Lincoln was supposedly born in. Setting brain to *awed*"... Live the experience and think your thoughts as they come to you. If it's something you think you'll find upsetting, perhaps consider skipping it entirely... and then reconsider, because that's usually a flag that it's something you need to face. :thumbsup:
I try to look at it as artifacts of the time and place to study and gain knowledge. Most of history is about one group exploiting another and if one is into history, then one has to accept that.
 
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#9
I have visited more than a few plantations. I like the Greek Revival architecture a lot. I also like Italianate, Gothic, and other styles that houses in history. Many of the houses are museums. Some are not. Boone Hall is famous for it's view, which I love, and a movie. The original house burned long ago. I am also into the haunting factor. When I hear about the family history, whether I am told or not, I think of the slaves. Who were they, how they were treated, was this a happy or sad place. What did they grow here. How were the slave quarters, of wood or brick, and if they still exist. I always keep in mind the people, white or black. The ghosts are there, whether we see them or not, happy, sad or angry. I need to know all of the history. Sometimes it makes me sad, and other times does not. We need to see all of the humans there, and if we can know them.
 

Dedej

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#10
* If you need to delete the main point of my post, please delete all of it. WWII was brought into comparison, I do not want just part of my post shown. For further reference, I would ask you either leave it as is, or delete all,of it*
Thank you.

Plantations when visited by me are like visiting a museum and I look at the way people lived in that era. I visit battlefields with the same awareness that something happened here years ago that interest me. I think are we trying to fit slavery into everything concerning the Civil War? We talk about a general it become slavery, We talk about a battle it becomes slavery. Slavery was an issue during the war but wasn't it for many years before and during the Revolutionary War also?

I think are we trying to fit slavery into everything concerning the Civil War?

The Civil War was fought over slavery. I know you don't believe that and think it's was a factor but not the main one -- but the Civil War happened over slavery. So, that is why slavery fits. No slavery = no CW.
 

DaveBrt

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#12
I've visited many ships, battlefields, cemeteries, plantations and other historic buildings. I approach each as an opportunity to learn how the people I read about actually lived. As examples: what did their houses look like, what were the room arrangements, how were they decorated, etc. What technology did they use, how far was it from one hill to another, were the houses on rivers and if so, which way did they face -- and on and on and on. Yes slavery is often an item of interest at a location, but to me it is a historical fact, just like all the others. I have no connection to the fire places those people used or the horses they rode or the cannon they fired or the slaves they owned. Those were their lives and I study them, but they are not my life.
 
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#13
My favorite analogy is that I can appreciate the Roman Coliseum as an outstanding architectural and civil engineering achievement of its time without condoning the horrific spectacles that took place in it. (It too was built by slaves, possibly even my own ancestors.) I view at least some well-preserved southern plantations as significant artifacts of American history. All I ask is that they not be reduced to "happy history," and the stories of 98% of the people who lived there, and who made the grandeur in which the other 2% lived possible, not be hidden, misrepresented, or "erased," to use a popular phrase, just to improve gift shop sales. They need to tell the whole story.
 
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Dedej

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#14
My favorite analogy is that I can appreciate the Roman Coliseum as an outstanding architectural and civil engineering achievement of its time without condoning the horrific spectacles that took place in it. (It too was built by slaves, possibly even my own ancestors.) I view at least some well-preserved southern plantations as significant artifacts of American history. All I ask is that they not be reduced to "happy history," in which the stories of 98% of the people who lived there, and who made the grandeur in which the other 2% lived possible, not be hidden, misrepresented, or "erased," to use a popular phrase, just to improve gift shop sales. They need to tell the whole story.
I loved your comment :smile: Thank you for sharing. And that is exactly what most have become. But, I see the enslaved is the backdrop to everything/everyone -- and/or invisible nameless "extras" during that time and during the Civil War.
 

matthew mckeon

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#15
Probably the best interpreted site I have seen is Monticello. The house and grounds are expressions of an unusual man to an unusual extend. Jefferson's place as Enlightenment thinker, politician, writer of the Declaration of Independence, as well as the buyer, seller, flogger and sexual exploiter of human beings is explored. The visitors have the refreshing experience of being treated as adults as the guides led you through the slave quarters and work areas.

The intelligent visitor leaves with an greater knowledge of one of the most significant and remarkable men in our nation's history, and with an understanding of his ugly side, and by extension, the ugly side of the nation he helped create.
 
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#16
I cannot help but feel a sense of oppression upon walking into a former plantation. The knowledge that at one time in our history human beings were held prisoner, forced into subservience under pain of death. It is overwhelming.
As much as I enjoy any visit to any historical site sometimes depression is part of the experience. In a few weeks I will be visiting several Virginia battle sites my ancestor fought in. I have pre conceived notions about them, I have studied them, I know what took place there, it is somewhat depressing to think about but I am excited to be going and looking forward to walking the sites. Having a connection to these sites I cannot help but think that in some way the events there that my ancestor took part in would have influenced his outlook on his own life and shaped the way he raised his children and so on through the generations right down to me and my grandchildren.
 
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#17
I don't think there should be any pre-supposed notion to visiting a plantation. Just go, try to absorb the vibes, and react accordingly. I don't think you can do wrong if you do that. If you get a chance, go into the "quarters" and see how that makes you feel. I am pretty sure that experience will be different on each plantation you visit.
 

damYankee

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#19
As Americans we only see the issue from one side of the lens. Regardless of our ethnicity our impressions are greatly influenced and seldom objective. No doubt that statement can be seen as insulting to some folks, but the truth is slavery as practiced in the New World was race based.
But it existed in Pre Columbian times is many forms and through out many societies, even with in Africa before European exploration of Africa the slave trade was in full bloom.

https://www.thoughtco.com/the-trans-atlantic-slave-trade-44544
 

Dedej

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#20
As Americans we only see the issue from one side of the lens. Regardless of our ethnicity our impressions are greatly influenced and seldom objective. No doubt that statement can be seen as insulting to some folks, but the truth is slavery as practiced in the New World was race based.
But it existed in Pre Columbian times is many forms and through out many societies, even with in Africa before European exploration of Africa the slave trade was in full bloom.

https://www.thoughtco.com/the-trans-atlantic-slave-trade-44544
Not sure what that has to do with Plantations and what the enslaved went through in America. But, please know Chattel Slavery was nothing like other forms.


Different types of Enslavement/Slavery

African Slavery (enslavement by African Countries/Kingdoms/Tribes): enslaved people were not treated as chattel slaves and were given certain rights in a system similar to indentured servitude elsewhere in the world.

Slave practices in Africa were used during different periods to justify specific forms of European engagement with the peoples of Africa. Eighteenth century writers in Europe claimed that slavery in Africa was quite brutal in order to justify the Atlantic slave trade. Later writers used similar arguments to justify intervention and eventual colonization by European powers to end slavery in Africa. "The Study of Slavery in Africa". The Journal of African History. Martin A. Klein


---

"The slaves in Africa, I suppose, are nearly in the proportion of three to one to the freemen. They claim no reward for their services except food and clothing, and are treated with kindness or severity, according to the good or bad disposition of their masters. Custom, however, has established certain rules with regard to the treatment of slaves, which it is thought dishonourable to violate. Thus the domestic slaves, or such as are born in a man’s own house, are treated with more lenity than those which are purchased with money. ... But these restrictions on the power of the master extend not to the care of prisoners taken in war, nor to that of slaves purchased with money. All these unfortunate beings are considered as strangers and foreigners, who have no right to the protection of the law, and may be treated with severity, or sold to a stranger, according to the pleasure of their owners."

Travels in the Interior of Africa, Mungo Park, Travels in the Interior of Africa v. II, Chapter XXII – War and Slavery.

Upon slavery Mr Robins remarked that it was not what people in England thought it to be. It means, as continually found in this part of Africa, belonging to a family group-there is no compulsory labour, the owner and the slave work together, eat the like food, wear the like clothing and sleep in the same huts. Some slaves have more wives than their masters. It gives protection to the slaves and everything necessary for their subsistence- food and clothing. A free man is worse off than a slave; he cannot claim his food from anyone.

Differences from Chattel Slavery in America:

- In sub-Saharan Africa, the slave relationships were often complex, with rights and freedoms given to individuals held in slavery and restrictions on sale and treatment by their masters.

- The forms of slavery in Africa were closely related to kinship structures.

- In many African communities, where land could not be owned, enslavement of individuals was used as a means to increase the influence a person had and expand connections. This made slaves a permanent part of a master's lineage and the children of slaves could become closely connected with the larger family ties.

- Children of slaves born into families could be integrated into the master's kinship group and rise to prominent positions within society, even to the level of chief in some instances. However, stigma often remained attached and there could be strict separations between slave members of a kinship group and those related to the master.

- Kinship structures and rights provided to slaves (*except those captured in war) appears to have limited the scope of slave trading before the start of the Arab slave trade and the Atlantic slave trade.

*Note: The bolded is very important - as many of these Africans - were selling war captures. In Africa - tribes and kingdoms is the ONLY thing that mattered - SKIN COLOR means nothing. Being an African - or sharing skincolor is mute. So, therefore - they were selling/trading enemies for goods, weapons, etc. But, even then - they (Africans) did not know that Chattel Slavery would be the form of enslavement they were selling them (war capture/prisoners) into - as they did not practice Chattel slavery in West African tribes/kingdoms.

- The enslaved were not killed brutally beaten, whipped, raped, gifted, owned for life, treated less than based off of race/skin-color, looked at as property over being a human.

-----

Islamic/Muslim/Arab Slavery (Islamic Enslavement): Dealt more so with the enslavement of African women and children. Very complex -- but religion-based.

Some differences that always stood out to me are:

- The majority of the enslaved were women and children. They were used as domestics and concubines. Arabs generally avoided adult African males and did not see them as desirable commodities. Prior to the Trans Atlantic, males would usually be killed rather than enslaved.

- The enslaved were for sexual exploitation as concubines, in harems, and for military service. They were not used for agriculture nor were the enslaved held on plantations.

- The enslaved were comparable to the enslaved of Roman times. They were seen as enslaved people -- not as fundamentally different as far as mental abilities, race or human qualities.
 



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