Living in Savannah, GA, one can not really escape the horrid specter of slavery: I mean, if you are any kind of awake, you understand that this pretty little city, the South, this whole dang country wouldn’t be here if weren’t for the labor and skills of enslaved Africans.
While there may be reminders in Maya Angelou’s powerful words at the feet of nicey-nice memorials and clues in the thumbprints of brick buildings, the stories of these tortured men, women and children–let alone their actual names–rarely made it to the metanarrative of local history. But that is finally changing:
I wrote a cover story for Connect Savannah a few months back about how city archivists are using old records to document the local government’s participation in the slave trade. The results of the project are now available, providing primary sources for academics and anyone else interested in real history.
A recent article in The Atlantic by my friend Kris Monroe details the largest slave auction in American history that took place in Savannah in March 1859. Only marginally discussed on the trolley tours if at all, this terrible event known as “The Weeping Time” sold off 436 human beings and split apart hundreds of families. There’s a little plaque west of the tourist corridor that commemorates the Weeping Time, but few people outside of Savannah knew about it until Kris brought it to a national readership.
There’s also this piece by Susanna Ashton in today’s Forward that focuses on Charleston and explains why Savannah’s Jewish community–the third oldest in the U.S.–took a nose dive just eight years after it was established:
One important population influx took place in 1741, when a large contingent of Jewish families left their homes in Savannah, Georgia, to resettle in Charleston because trustees of the Georgia colony would not let them (or anyone else) hold slaves. The state of South Carolina, which had long embraced slaveholding, was thus a welcoming place for these families. By 1749, when Georgia rethought the ban and decided to allow slaveholding, it was too late.
This could have been a good article, but you didn’t really say very much or give many details whatsoever. I’m really intrigued by this topic, so maybe you can rewrite your article and give more details or at least links to websites that do.
It really was meant to be an overview, Theodore. I don’t have the time or wherewithal to rewrite other people’s articles; there’s plenty of information if you click on the links.
Also, you could rewrite your comment to make it less rude. Thanks!
The reality of Jews engaged in slavery has been gently wiped from our collective minds as has the fact that Judah Benjamin was not only the first Jewish senator but the architect of the confederate war. I think it’s remarkable that we know so little of our role as Jews in shaping this country. Good and bad. http://www.tabletmag.com/jewish-arts-and-culture/books/106227/the-forgotten-confederate-jew
Fascinating topic. I would love to have time to learn much more.
For some more info, try ‘Jewish Pirates of he Caribbean’ by Edward Kritzler; also, once upon a time there was a book about some Southern banker who bank rolled the Confederacy. Hey Yo!