The beating heart of Fredericksburg’s capitalist emergence.
This recent post by Julia Ott, a historian of capitalism at the New School, articulates forcefully a point that can’t be repeated enough: in a very real sense, slaves were the capital that made the emergence of capitalism possible. Or, as she puts it, “slave-capital proved indispensable to the emergence of industrial capitalism and to the ascent of the United States as a global economic power. Indeed, the violent dispossession of racialized chattel slaves from their labor, their bodies, and their families — not the enclosure of the commons identified by Karl Marx — set capitalism in motion and sustained capital accumulation for three centuries.” Read more
The mysterious wooden enclosure in the basement.
My two recent posts on Carter’s Grove and Beverly Wellford’s physician/slave insurance office have gotten me thinking about the experience of inhabiting historic landscapes of slavery as a modern historian and general Yankee. This past weekend, I had another direct encounter with a landscape, not of slavery, but of early 20th century Jim Crow. This final encounter suggested to me that I should make “Landscapes of Slavery” a regular (if occasional) feature on my blog. As transplanted Yankee living below the Mason-Dixon, the remnants of the South’s history of racialized labor relations fascinates me, and I’ll take care to document them as I encounter them in daily life. Read more
Brian at 802 Princess Anne St., built by Dr. Beverly Wellford in 1826. Note the historic plaque in the center of the building.
In my last post on Carter’s Grove, I found myself imaging what it would be like to inhabit a landscape so thoroughly imbued with slavery. This train of thought led to my wondering about Fredericksburg’s landscape of slavery. Slavery is an obvious presence in the fabric of Fredericksburg’s colonial and antebellum streetscape, with the Auction Block being only the most obvious example. But I have also inhabited that landscape in a direct and personal way. This is a first in a series of posts about my first-person encounters with the ghosts of slavery in Fredericksburg. Read more
I wonder what the air conditioning bill is like?
Does anyone want to give me $15 million? All I found under the couch this morning was a dime. I ask because Carter’s Grove, a plantation built on the James River just below Williamsburg in early 1750s for the descendants of Robert ‘King’ Carter, has come on the market. I have been developing a more personal interest in historic Virginia architecture recently, as all the cuts on my fingers from noodling around in the guts of an 1839 clockmaker and silversmith’s shop can attest. Seems like Carter’s Grove would be a nice step up from a modest artisan’s workshop and residence on Caroline Street. Read more