Days 2 and 3: Plantations, Forts, Slavery, and A Lot of Rain
So, we have a very long five hours of driving today. This will hopefully give me some time to do some blogging.
Two days ago, we went to Boone Hall Plantation. After spending a little time in the gardens, we went inside the house, where we could not take pictures (and if you know me, you probably know how much I love that).
Boone Hall is the longest continuously running plantation, producing indigo, rice, pecans, and even bricks over the years. Of course, up until the end of the Civil War, much of the work had been done by slaves, both Native and Black.
The plantation has a row of slave quarters that shows different aspects of slave life. One of the rooms had a list of slaves shipped in through Charleston. Interestingly, the last two shipments of slaves from Africa were in 1858, fifty years after importing slave was outlawed.
Much of the slave quarter displays discussed the gullah culture, which was accentuated by the presentation of a local woman who recited two of her poems in gullah, one of which she recited the poem in English as well. She discussed how the different people, slaves and masters, influenced each other in all aspects of life. African slaves came from many different African tribes and nations, worshipped different gods, and sometimes even were at war with one another. The slaveholders were also from different culture: the Dutch, the French, the English, the Spanish, and so forth.
Frankly, I really liked her poems. I was able to grab a recording of them both, and if you don’t mind a little shaky hand, I can show it to you when I get back.
Then, we went on a walking tour of Charleston. It was interesting, and we got to see a couple of interesting sights, but often I couldn’t hear what the tour guide was saying. Two things that did stand out to me: P. T. Beauregard’s headquarters and St. Michael’s Episcopal Church. I will have to save Beauregard for one-on-one conversations (you’ll understand when I tell you). I found St. Michael’s interesting because it was easily seen from the harbor. In fact, during the Revolutionary War, the tower was painted black because the British were using it as a target when firing upon Charleston from the harbor.
We then finished up at the Old Slave Mart Museum, which was opened in what used to be Ryan’s Mart, one of the largest slave markets of the time. In the 1850s, the city of Charleston made it illegal to sell slaves out on the streets, causing the creation of about 40 slave marts like Ryan’s Mart. The woman who was describing the treatment of slaves really caught my attention when she discussed the way slaves were prepared for sale: coloring or plucking out gray hair, oiling up the skin, and having them exercise to tone their muscles before going up to be presented for sale. Although I have heard all of this before, I suddenly made the connection to FFA students preparing an animal for show. I’m not sure why the realization hit me so hard, but the connection was pretty powerful. I knew slaves were seen as possessions, like cattle, but this was the clearest analogy for me.
The next day, we took a ferry out to Fort Sumter, the place where the first shots of the Civil War were fired. Six days after South Carolina seceded from the Union, Major Robert Anderson secretly took command of Fort Sumter. On the following day, Fort Moultrie, Fort Johnson, and Castle Pickney were occupied by Confederate volunteers. Fort Sumter remained in Union hands, and on April 11, Brigadier General P. T. Beauregard demanded Anderson surrender Sumter to the Confederacy. At daybreak on April 12, Confederate forces all around Fort Sumter began firing, which continued through the day and night. At 2 o’clock in the afternoon, Anderson surrendered Sumter to the South, in whose hands it remained until it was evacuated on February 17, 1865.
While we were at Fort Sumter, the teachers were able to participate in raising the five flags that flew over Fort Sumter during the Civil War.
In Fort Sumter, we were able to see damage from cannon fire.
After visiting Fort Sumter, we went to kayak down Quenby Creek to see rice fields and rice impoundments. I have to admit that I could not hear the tour guide much, and when I did, I had nothing to write with. Unfortunately, we were unable to get as far as we wanted because we were hit by a torrential downpour and a very close lightning storm. Needless to say, since our paddles were nice long lightning rods, we hurriedly paddled back to the loading dock. We were soaked! In fact, one of our group actually tipped his kayak. Unfortunately, the rain did not subside, and much to the chagrin of our group, we could not continue on the kayaking trip.
What a great couple of days! I hope you enjoy the pictures.