Sunday, March 10, 2013

Photo-of-the-Week #97, Hampton Plantation, South Carolina, February 2013

Here's how the prosperous plantation owners lived in the early days of the English Colonies in the New World during the mid to late 18th Century. This was a rice plantation in what is commonly referred to as the "Lowcountry" of South Carolina. The Hampton Plantation (no longer operating) is near Georgetown, South Carolina.

Life was very comfortable for the plantation owners. It was far less comfortable for the enslaved Africans who were brought to the New World by a harsh slave trade that was part of the British Empire. This was all part of our English heritage and legacy. It's certainly nothing to be very proud of. Plantations like this were typically very large and had many slave laborers who toiled away for long hours in all kinds of extreme weather conditions doing every job imaginable for a tiny amount of space to live in and the bare rations of food they received.

Most plantation owners took pretty good care of their slaves because like all farmers past and present, these human beings were considered assets of the plantation just as a tractor or combine is in today's agricultural world. The idea of human slavery is certainly not recent. It goes back to the early Old Testament times as well as to ancient Egypt, Mesopotamia and other parts of the Old World. It was not uncommon in Asia or South Africa. And, unfortunately, slavery continues to this day in some parts of the world and even, illegally, here in the United States.

While my high school and college history education, of course, discussed slavery and its role in America and the Civil War, it didn't mention that the English were actually some of the later slave traders. The earliest slave traders in North America included the Dutch, Portuguese, Spanish and French. Additionally, substantial numbers of the indigenous Native Americans were also captured into slavery. And here's a fact that I wasn't aware of, there were nearly 4,000 Free Blacks or African Americans who owned their own black slaves.

It's amazing that such beauty, opulence and luxury (of the time) was on the backs of people who were regarded as little more than chattel and assets. What a species we humans are.

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