Most visited plantation in Louisiana takes down sign claiming slaves were ‘well taken care of and happy’

Francis Akhalbey Mar 22, 2019 at 12:10pm

March 22, 2019 at 12:10 pm | News

Francis Akhalbey

Francis Akhalbey | Content Manager

March 22, 2019 at 12:10 pm | News

Top Photo: Rosedown Plantation

A sign on display at Louisiana’s most-visited historical site, the Rosedown Plantation, has been taken down after it described slaves working on the cotton plantation as “well taken care of and happy.” The sign hung in the plantation’s detached kitchen as part of an exhibit called “Slave Life at Rosedown.”

The plantation, which was built by slaves between 1834 and 1835, was one of the richest plantations in the antebellum south, according to The Advocate. It had about 850 enslaved people working on it before the American Civil War.

Rosedown Plantation in 1934

The “Slave Life at Rosedown” exhibit claimed the enslaved workers on the plantation lived in “prettily built and very comfortable” cabins and were woken up at 4 am daily to commence work.

“The slaves were well taken care of and happy,” the sign also read. During Christmas, the slaves converged because they “have a natural musical instinct. It was wonderful how well they succeeded in their melodies.”

The sign also claimed the owner of the plantation built a ‘pretty church’ for the slaves that was heated during winter ‘for their comfort during services.’

The exhibit sign that was on display at the Rosedown Plantation — Photo Credit: Carina Johansson/Daily Mirror

The deputy assistant of State Parks, Brandon Burris, however, claimed the sign was a mistake and confirmed it had been taken down.

He further told The Advocate that curators were trying to quote from a book named “Rosedown” which was written by Sarah Bowman, a member of the Barrow Turnbull family that built the showplace plantation in the 1830s. He added that the sign failed to highlight the source and was not properly punctuated.

Rosedown Plantation

A professor at Southern University, Albert Samuels, however, told The Advocate he wasn’t buying it.

“They always come up with ‘Oh, it’s a mistake,’ but no one’s responsible,” Samuels said. “I wish I could say I was shocked. But there is still a basic unwillingness to come to terms with the fact that slavery was an awful institution.”

Professor Samuels also said that after the South lost the Civil War, their leaders changed the causes and aims of the war, making it look like slavery was a hospitable institution.

Even now, according to Samuels, most plantations stand as memories of ‘the good ole days’ ignoring the horrors of slavery thereby aggravating racial tensions.

“I’m not saying we should get rid of these things. But they need to be put in the proper historical context. We do ourselves no favors by pretending that thing didn’t exist when it did,” he said.

The plantation, according to The Advocate, was acquired by the state in 2000. It was previously owned by Milton Underwood, a Houston investment banker who purchased it from the Turnbull family in the 1960s.

Rosedown Plantation

“Rosedown represents one of the most intact, documented examples of a domestic plantation complex in the South,” the State Parks’ paperwork that led to the plantation’s national historic designation states.

“As the real version of the ‘Gone with The Wind’ stereotype, Rosedown, due to its completeness, enables one to appreciate first-hand the domestic world of the South’s wealthiest planters.”

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