Views on visiting a plantation?

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livia

Private
Joined
Aug 11, 2014
Location
London
Hi everyone
I'm heading back to the USA this summer with my family and will be stopping off at Charleston during a cruise. I was at Charleston last year and made a visit to Fort Sumter and this time, I've been going back and forth on the topic of visiting either Boone Hall or Magnolia.
Currently I'm in the "no" camp. Although I'm interested from a purely historic perspective, I'm aware that these plantation homes are businesses and seem to focus a lot of attention on the beauty of the "big house" and gardens and less on the slavery aspects. I think attending a tour would wind me up and I'd end up hating the experience.
I recall on an earlier, civil war focused solo trip, visiting Kenmore House in Fredericksburg and being very aware that the guide referred a lot to servants, rather than slaves. But I thought the slave exhibition at Mount Vernon was well done - perhaps as the house tour was focused on the history and the man, rather than on the beauty of the house.
Wondered what your thoughts are on the topic?
 

Kurt G

First Sergeant
Joined
May 23, 2018
This is a great question . I've had similar thoughts about visiting a civil war era plantation . I have visited Mt. Vernon and many years ago I visited Jefferson's home Monticello . At Monticello they have reconstructed slave cabins and some mention of slavery was present , but it didn't seem to be a major topic . This may have changed since my visit . It is a very beautiful and historic place that I would highly recommend . A civil war era plantation would hopefully have more than just a mention of that "peculiar institution." I think I would do some research on the sites and see what their tours cover .
 
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livia

Private
Joined
Aug 11, 2014
Location
London
Hi Thanks for your replies. I've had a look at both of the options and think they wouldn't be for me. I did however find an interesting site called the MCLeod Plantation Historic Site just outside the city which seems more interested in the history, the lives of the slaves on the plantation, the Freedman Bureau after the war and the transition to freedom. I suspect there will be less oohing and aahing over furniture and flowers here.
https://www.ccprc.com/1447/McLeod-Plantation-Historic-Site
Think I may give this a go as it's just a short bus from the city centre.
 

infomanpa

Sergeant Major
Joined
Feb 18, 2017
Location
Pennsylvania
I just left Charleston, a couple of days ago and visited Magnolia Plantation. They have a tour of the slavery experience and show you the slave dwellings.
 

Vicksburger

First Sergeant
Joined
Dec 16, 2011
Location
Saint Joseph
Hi everyone
I'm heading back to the USA this summer with my family and will be stopping off at Charleston during a cruise. I was at Charleston last year and made a visit to Fort Sumter and this time, I've been going back and forth on the topic of visiting either Boone Hall or Magnolia.
Currently I'm in the "no" camp. Although I'm interested from a purely historic perspective, I'm aware that these plantation homes are businesses and seem to focus a lot of attention on the beauty of the "big house" and gardens and less on the slavery aspects. I think attending a tour would wind me up and I'd end up hating the experience.
I recall on an earlier, civil war focused solo trip, visiting Kenmore House in Fredericksburg and being very aware that the guide referred a lot to servants, rather than slaves. But I thought the slave exhibition at Mount Vernon was well done - perhaps as the house tour was focused on the history and the man, rather than on the beauty of the house.
Wondered what your thoughts are on the topic?
Get rid of your PC sensitivities and just enjoy the history.
 
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Joshism

Sergeant Major
Joined
Apr 30, 2012
Location
Jupiter, FL
Get rid of your PC sensitivities and just enjoy the history.
Referring to slaves as servants is bad history.

I visit plantations occasionally, mostly if I'm interested in the plantation's owner (I've visited the plantations of Washington, Jefferson, and Jackson; Madison is on my To Visit list). I'm less concerned with whether they say "enough" about slavery and more concerned whether what they do say about it is accurate.

I'm not big on visiting mansions in general. Some folks are disgusted by how the owner treated their laborers (enslaved or otherwise); I tend to be more put off by the wasteful excess often involved. The cathedrals of Europe are not on my itinerary for that reason.
 

JPK Huson 1863

Brev. Brig. Gen'l
Forum Host
Joined
Feb 14, 2012
Location
Central Pennsylvania
If being hugely aware of how, exactly those plantations grew into lovely homes is PC then we're in more trouble than I thought.


Thanks for the link on McLeod's. If you get to D.C., the new museum, National Museum Of African American History And Culture makes the story awfully clear. Haven't been able to make the trip yet but it'll be worth it just for that.
 

Lubliner

Sergeant Major
Joined
Nov 27, 2018
Location
Chattanooga, Tennessee
Referring to slaves as servants is bad history.

I visit plantations occasionally, mostly if I'm interested in the plantation's owner (I've visited the plantations of Washington, Jefferson, and Jackson; Madison is on my To Visit list). I'm less concerned with whether they say "enough" about slavery and more concerned whether what they do say about it is accurate.

I'm not big on visiting mansions in general. Some folks are disgusted by how the owner treated their laborers (enslaved or otherwise); I tend to be more put off by the wasteful excess often involved. The cathedrals of Europe are not on my itinerary for that reason.
I would almost tend to believe a host or guide would use their own sensibilities when referring to the 'slave' in that era. The understanding of some people can be quite confused by such a harsh statement, and think whips and chains, when a house servant, though a slave, was treated in a very different way. Possibly the ability to project the 'truth' is more correct in some cases, by using the synonym. We definitely would not expect to hear an N-word uttered in the current atmosphere, though it may be more precise in replicating the situation, and the belief of the Master of the House.
Lubliner.
 
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archieclement

Captain
Joined
Sep 17, 2011
Location
mo
Referring to slaves as servants is bad history.

I visit plantations occasionally, mostly if I'm interested in the plantation's owner (I've visited the plantations of Washington, Jefferson, and Jackson; Madison is on my To Visit list). I'm less concerned with whether they say "enough" about slavery and more concerned whether what they do say about it is accurate.

I'm not big on visiting mansions in general. Some folks are disgusted by how the owner treated their laborers (enslaved or otherwise); I tend to be more put off by the wasteful excess often involved. The cathedrals of Europe are not on my itinerary for that reason.
I tend to agree, I have no problem if slavery is mentioned in the workings of a plantation, I would love to see a tour that perhaps focused on the workings which would be more about the agricultural practices of the time then the labor force.

But like you I generally go to hear of the owner, and not the butler/maid or carriage driver, whether slave or not.

Edit-added I do think theres a place for niche tours, whether a optional side tour or a lesser known plantation, here in the midwest there are period farm/museums that focus more on the workings, but they are not of famous people........The more famous the owner, such as Josh referring to Washington, Jefferson, Jackson, or Madison the more common sense it would be people are going wishing to hear primarily of the famous person.
 
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John S. Carter

First Sergeant
Joined
Mar 15, 2017
I just left Charleston, a couple of days ago and visited Magnolia Plantation. They have a tour of the slavery experience and show you the slave dwellings.
This is out of order but I have just finished the book "A Blockaded Family,LIFE in Southern Alabama during the Civil War" Parthenia Antoinetta Hague.It is a history of a plantation in Eufaula,Al..It deals with life of women from 1861-1864.It is one of the best books on what women endured and their creativity in order of survive the hardship of deprivation during the war.This is told by Ms Hague who came from Ga. as as teacher to Eufaula.May I suggest that research into Eufaula and into Ms Hague.This might aid in providing insight into this time.Another would be when you WIP. Eufaula that you go to UTUB and look at the video on Dr.Wayne Flynt at Wallace College as he tells of the history of that town during the war and after.
 
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