In the spirit of ‘saying their names,’ the names of the enslaved “property” in Eliza Lucas Pinckney’s estate are listed below. Black people were enumerated in testamentary documents along with furniture, horses and mules, jewelry and land, making clear their status as chattel.
[The names listed in bold on the list are names I’ve used in my novel (in its second edit now)].
It’s also worth noting that at the time of her marriage to Charles Pinckney (May 27, 1744), Eliza’s father included about two dozen enslaved people as part of her dowry. The record tells us that Quashee (aka John Williams) was a matter of dispute between Eliza’s father and her fiance. Both men wanted him and for good reason — he was literate and an extraordinarily skilled carpenter. Eliza’s husband-to-be won out and Quashee went on to oversee and help build the newlywed couple’s new home on East Bay.
Also note: it’s a mistake to think that slaves named after days of the week were so-named out of a heartless, objectifying inattention on the part of auctioneers and owners, much like some names were based on slave trading ships (see recent post about Phillis Wheatley). In some African cultures it was common. For instance, Cudjoe (variants: Cuffy, Joe) means Monday; Quashee, Sunday.
Glymph, Thavolia. Out of the House of Bondage: The Transformation of the Plantation Household. Cambridge: Cambridge UP, 2008. Print.*
Gordon-Reed, Annette. The Hemingses of Monticello: An American Family. New York: W.W. Norton &, 2008. Print.*
Haulman, Kate. The Politics of Fashion in Eighteenth-century America. Chapel Hill: University of North Carolina, 2011. Print.
Hart, Emma. Building Charleston: Town and Society in the Eighteenth-century British Atlantic World. Charlottesville: U of Virginia, 2010. Print.*
Higginbottom Jr., A. Leon. In the Matter of Color: Race and the American Legal Process, The Colonial Period. New York, Oxford University Press, 1978. Print.
Hoffer, Peter Charles, Cry Liberty, The Great Stono River Slave Rebellion of 1739. Oxford University Press, 2012. Print.*
Hurmence, Belinda. Before Freedom, When I Just Can Remember: Twenty-seven Oral Histories of Former South Carolina Slaves. Winston-Salem, NC: J.F. Blair, 1989. Print.*
Hurmence, Belinda. My Folks Don’t Want Me To Talk About Slavery. John F. Blair, Publisher, 2013.
Jacobs, Harriet. Incidents in the Life of a Slave Girl. Barnes & Noble, 2005.
Joyner, Charles W. Down by the Riverside: A South Carolina Slave Community. Urbana: U of Illinois, 1984. Print.*
Kenslea, Timothy. The Sedgwicks in Love: Courtship, Engagement, and Marriage in the Early Republic. Boston: Northeastern UP, 2006. Print.
Krebs, Laurie. A Day in the Life of a Colonial Indigo Planter. The Rosen Publishing Group, 2003.
Legrand, Catherine. Indigo, The Color that Changed the World, New York: Thames & Hudson, 2013. Print..
LeMaster, Michelle, and Bradford J. Wood. Creating and Contesting Carolina: Proprietary Era Histories. Print.
McCandless, Peter. Slavery, Disease, and Suffering in the Southern Lowcountry. Cambridge: Cambridge UP, 2011. Print.
McCarthy, B. Eugene, and Thomas L. Doughton. From Bondage to Belonging: The Worcester Slave Narratives. Amherst: University of Massachusetts, 2007. Print.
McCurry, Stephanie. Masters of Small Worlds. Oxford University Press, 1995.
McKay, Nellie Y. (editor). Incidents in the Life of a Slave Girl Harriet Jacobs. New York: W.W. Norton &, 2001. Print.
McKinley, Catherine E. Indigo: In Search of the Color That Seduced the World. New York: Bloomsbury, 2011. Print.
Mueller, Pamela Bauer. Water to My Soul: The Story of Eliza Lucas Pinckney. Jekyll Island, GA: Pinata Pub., 2012. Print.
Mullin, Michael. Africa in America: Slave Acculturation and Resistance in the American South and the British Caribbean, 1736-1831. ACLS History E-Book Project. 2004.
Myers, Amrita Chakrabarti. Forging Freedom: Black Women and the Pursuit of Liberty in Antebellum Charleston. Chapel Hill: University of North Carolina, 2011. Print.
Nelson, Louis P. The Beauty of Holiness. Univ of North Carolina Press, 2009.
Northup, Solomon, and D. Wilson. Twelve Years a Slave Narrative of Solomon Northrup, Citizen of New York, Kidnapped in Washington City in 1841 and Rescued in 1853 from a Cotton Plantation near the Red River, in Louisiana. Auburn: Derby and Miller, 1853. Print.
Pinckney, Eliza Lucas, and Elise Pinckney. The Letterbook of Eliza Lucas Pinckney. Ed. Marvin R. Zahniser and Elise Pinckney. Columbia, SC: U of South Carolina, 1997. Print.
Rediker, Marcus. The Slave Ship: A Human History. New York: Viking, 2007. Print.
Rhyne, Nancy, and Sue Alston. John Henry Rutledge: The Ghost of Hampton Plantation: A Parable. Orangeburg, SC: Sandlapper Pub., 1997. Print.
Rhyne, Nancy. Tales of the South Carolina Low Country. John F Blair Pub, 1982.
Rivers, Larry Eugene. Slavery in Florida, Territorial Days to Emancipation. Florida: University Press, 2009.
Rogers, George C. Charleston in the Age of the Pinckneys. Norman: U of Oklahoma, 1969. Print.
Rucker, Walter C. The River Flows On. LSU Press, 2008.
Russell, Franklin. The Okefenokee Swamp. Time-Life Books, 1986.
Rutledge, Archibald. Home by the River. Indianapolis: Bobbs-Merrill, 1941. Print.
Rutledge, Sarah. The Carolina Housewife. Columbia: U of South Carolina, 1979. Print.
Smith, Mark M. Stono: Documenting and Interpreting a Southern Slave Revolt. Columbia, SC: U of South Carolina, 2005. Print.
South Carolina Slave Narratives. S.I.: Native American Book, 2009. Print.
Stuart, Andrea. Sugar in the Blood: A Family’s Story of Slavery and Empire. New York: Alfred A. Knopf, 2013. Print.
Twitty, Michael W. The Cooking Gene. HarperCollins, 2018.
Vernon, Amelia Wallace. African Americans at Mars Bluff, South Carolina. Baton Rouge and London: Louisiana State University Press. 1993.
Walsh, Lorena S. From Calabar to Carter’s Grove. Rutgers University Press, 2001.
Williams, Frances Leigh. Plantation Patriot; a Biography of Eliza Lucas Pinckney. New York: Harcourt, Brace & World, 1967. Print.
Wood, Peter H. Black Majority; Negroes in Colonial South Carolina from 1670 through the Stono Rebellion. New York: Knopf;, 1974. Print.
Wulf, Andrea. Founding Gardeners. Vintage, 2012.
Zacek, Natalie. Settler Society in the English Leeward Islands, 1670-1776. New York: Cambridge UP, 2010. Print.
Eliza Lucas – PhD Thesis
Cloudsplitter, Russell Banks
Kindred, Octavia Butler
Sapphira and The Slave Girl, Willa Cather
Cold Mountain, Charles Frazier
The Good Lord Bird and Song Yet Sung, by James McBride
Beloved, Toni Morrison
Water to My Soul, Pamela Mueller
The Color Purple, Alice Walker
Someone Knows My Name, Lawrence Hill
Underground Airlines, Ben White
Underground Railroad, Colson Whitehead
The Invention of Wings, Sue Monk Kidd
Nostalgia, Dennis MacFarland
Plantation Patriot, Francis Leigh Williams
The Indigo Girl, Natasha Boyd* (have not read yet)
The Water Dancer, Ta-Nehesi Coates
Movies / TV
The Civil War (Ken Burns)
John Adams – HBO series
Daughters of the Dust
Twelve Years a Slave
Tours / Historic Sites
Boone Hall Plantation
The Charleston Museum Drayton Hall Magnolia Plantation — both the enslaved cabin tour and the big house tour Magnolia Cemetery McLeod Plantation Middleton Place Aiken-Rhett House Old Charleston Jail Rebellion Farm : for a weekend of indigo dyeing in a pole barn with Sea Island Indigo Stono Slave Rebellion Marker Sullivan Island Wappoo Plantation Marker
Faneuil Hall Middle Passage Ceremony, August 13, 2015 The Granary Burial Grounds (where John Hancock’s ‘servant’ Frank is buried, as well as Crispus Attucks) Mt. Auburn Cemetery (burial sites of Harriet Jacobs and Mary Walker) The Jackson Homestead The Royall House and Slave Quarters (spent a night in the quarters with The Slave Dwelling Project)
We went to the North Shore with the hopes of walking on a beach and eating clams.
I counted signage. Didn’t know what to expect but I’m happy to report that Biden, BLM, and Choose Love signs outnumbered the trump signs and American flags combined.
Two obvious but sickening notes: 1) how thoroughly the GOP has coopted patriotism such that it was a safe guess that homes flying flags were trump supporters; and 2) how one party is about love and the other party isn’t. Stark.
A breezy day with beautiful clouds.
Couldn’t find a public beach, but we did eat clams. The Clam Box was super crowded with jostling in the parking lot and a loooong wait for food but people were keeping distance and all wore masks. Delicious clams — and a slightly better deal than the famous Woodman’s in Essex.
Heading back we came across The Old Burying Ground, 1634 and wandered in.
The drive home was awful. But at least I had taken a leak. I won’t tell you where.
It was not a great outing and not a bad one. I have to say the best part was walking into the house upon return and being thoroughly glad to be home — as if we’d been gone for days and not a matter of hours.
An hour later we joined a few strangers at Cape Hedge Beach in Rockport just as a fine mist rolled in.
I pocketed a few striped rocks for my collection, but heart-shaped rocks are rare around here so I settled on heart-adjacent.
Dinner at the famous Woodman’s in Essex was its usual combination of delicious and mind-numbingly pricey. Do you know what fries clams cost these days? Though tables outside afforded good social distance, I insisted we eat in the car. Too much coming and going. Also — at least three dogs. And anyway, the view from the front seat satisfied!
We had a pounding rain last night. It looks as though my tender basil, amaranth, and sunflower seedlings survived.
After a three day break, the patio crew is back. Movement. Progress. So much waiting and delay lately! Will I / won’t I hear from the editor this week?
The dream of freedom was tangible like a sinew pulled taut in pleasure. It had heft. The dream of freedom could be felt as a push, like the wind blowing rice husks off the grains when women jerked the fanner baskets in efficient and elegant rituals of home or it could be felt as a pull, like a rope hauling a barge upriver. The dream tugged nerves and sleep, and underlay casual conversations about trivial matters. It pulled a body toward the future and also curled in the twists of memory, both a beautiful haunting of things to come and ancestral whispers of things gone by. The wounding clime of bondage built arguments in support of freedom as naturally and with as much necessity as skin growing over an ugly gash. But to be clear, scars spoke the language of resilience, which was related to the dream of freedom, but not the dream itself. That spoke in shining eyes, secret language, and sly disguises. Or in violence.
Brewing coffee for the family, setting out parasols for walks, making candles, serving guests at parties, being afraid to love, to go off-plantation, to speak one’s thoughts — all evidence of a tainted universe. It was the white person’s pleasure that mattered. Their need. Their piles of sterling. Their margins of profit. Their luxuriant strolls along the river. Their indolent, well-tended naps. Their Madeira, Barbadian rum, Meyer lemons, and hyssop honeys. Their sparkling gatherings. Their baths after sunset, with captive hands to light the lanterns, scrub the scalp, and hold out the towels. Daily inequities both small and transient and weighty and monumental all built arguments toward freedom without a slave having to utter a single word. Proof after ugly proof of despotism, proof after ugly proof of the delusion of their owners’ claimed superiority, proof after ugly proof of theft on an ungodly scale — all the arguments readily made.
Despair both stifled and enlived the dream of freedom. Sometimes sorrow laid its damp hand on the shoulder of the enslaved and whispered mournfully, ‘The hound is fed better than you.’ Clarifying. Inescapable. Sometimes the weight of exhaustion and defeat made the bound ones turn eyes heavenward, where on many a night even the cold glitter of stars seemed against them. Suffering was a place, a task, a state of mind, and all of the enslaved dwelt in it even as they sometimes knew they were not of it.
The dream of freedom showed up as a complex counterpoint to their weary or rage-filled situation or as a simple expression of basic humanity. Complex and simple, both. How could anyone so thoroughly deprive a people of their essential selves and on such a large scale? What god allowed it to happen and then let the damage accrue through the generations? What could be harder to correct?
For instance, what would it take to get Moses on a ship to Baltimore or Philadelphia, under whose watchful eye and with what money passage purchased? Could the dream of freedom, so ever-present but generally lacking particulars, coalesce into a plan for Maggie and her mother, Saffron, providing both a map to a maroon community in the swamps and the courage to get there? The codes exchanged. The secret slips. Literacy grabbed and then hidden. Currency tucked under conspiring earth in burlap sacks. Mo turning deadfall into rice pestles, selling them on the sly. Quash earned his legitimate carpenter’s fees. There were some means, some measures of will (large and small), some hearts exploding with desire to live else-wise. There were a thousands of pitfalls to avoid.
Little did the planters know thatin two weeks’ time, the dream of freedom would announce itself in the blazing specificity of blood and fire. Near the Stono River. Direction: south. Means: stolen muskets, strikers and flints, powder, strong legs. Leaders: Jemma and Cato. Required: all manner of bravery – the bravery of leadership, the bravery to trust and follow, the bravery of youth, the bravery of experience, the bravery of men with nothing to lose and those with everything to lose, the bravery of men acting as men can and should in holy alliances forged with their fundamental right to live.
It was a cruel irony that this dream of freedom, acted in a crescent of violence with such rugged hope, would end up dashing Mo’s chances at learning a trade, a trade that would’ve offered him a shaky but potentially viable path to manumission. As for the other slaves at Wappoo, one would eventually sail north aboard a ship where his pale skin would fool the sailors and their captain, and then, perhaps more critically, deceive the vicious slave catchers and traders who roamed the northern cities with menacing greed. The boy’s freedom would rely on the sacrifice of many, on their successful collusion, and on luck. Freedom at the cost of his mother’s heartbreak was worth it, always worth it, even to her — offering not just one young person his chance, but giving others testimony that glittered in the telling, a telling to be handed down for twelve generations, even as they knew there was no shame in staying put.
Another would eventually be freed through the so-called ‘charitable grace’ of his owner. He would change his name to ‘John Williams.’ Mr. Williams would proceed to buy his wife, free his daughters, and buy land with the help of a prominent slave owner named Dr. Alexander Gardner.Williams will buy slaves too, of course, because that was how once succeeded in a slave-economy. A simple-minded reader of history might condemn the former-slave-turned-slave-owner, but presumably his ‘property’ was treated better than that belonging to his white-skinned counterparts and presumably, too, he trained them in the skills for which he was renowned: carpentry.
Further along in time, Williams’ obvious wealth and success would itch and wound his white land-owning brethren, causing them to ask: ‘how dare he succeed with such flourish?’ thus precipitating the free black man’s swift exit north in the direction of the Santee River, ending the carpenter’s known story and for all we know, his life as well. We don’t know. The dark blot of silence that surrounds so many black lives of history leaves us unsatisfied, uninformed, and guessing. Ignorant.
This chapter came out because, to use John Gardner‘s metaphor, it interrupted the dream. He has said that novelists invite readers into a dream, and our job is to maintain that dream. Anythingthatinterrupts, should be rewrittenor jettisoned.Typical interruptions: inconsistent POV, showing off, placing style over the needs of the story, inconsistent character.
There are several places in my draft where Iswitchfrom first persontoomniscientnarrator, and who knows maybe they will also need to come out, but this one was a clearinterruption. Sometimes making sense of history generally, and of slavery in particular, I needed to write like this — almost to explain to myself the raw andbrutal dimensions of my subject matter.
There is a lot I could tell you about the Stono Slave Rebellion, but I don’t have theenergyfor it now. You can get a quick sense of it with a google search.
We have Big Wind today.Sirensgoing all morning — I’mcertain for downed trees and not corona virus [even thoughMassachusetts is vying with Florida and Pennsylvaniafor third most cases (after New York and New Jersey)].
It’s a cool wind and so, so assertive. I spent a part of the morning sitting in the shelter of the garage and just witnessing the effects of it — clouds scudding by, maple tops dancing vigorously, gulls blown inland from the coast.
Upstairs, I was so happy to open windows and snuggle under a small humble quiltthatDeb sent to me not long ago.Where she is in the south, even bigger winds blew through.
Don’t ask why WP has offered such a variety of font changes. Beats the shit out of me. How interesting to LET IT BE and not fuss!