This concerns your article on the Whitney plantation. It seems from the tone of his remarks, Mr. John Cummings has an ax to grind. I would hope he is not trying to stir up hatred of white people because of slavery.
None of my ancestors owned slaves, and I resent that anyone attempts to blame me for it. The slaveholders have all gone to judgment. The people of today are no more responsible than today’s Japanese for the Bataan Death March or today’s Germans for the extermination camps or today’s Native Americans for the massacre of women and children in the early days of the nation. But Mr. Cummings gives me the impression that he is pointing a finger at today’s whites for the evil of slavery.
Everyone should be made aware of the wickedness of slavery. Personally, I cannot view these mansions without remembering they were built by slave labor.
On the other hand, I feel they should be preserved as a tribute to the talents and artistry of the workers. T
hese slaves showed us what they could do. The architect designed it, but it took the worker to produce the final product. Their descendants can look upon these edifices with pride that their ancestors could do such work, even in bondage.
Yes, when people visit these mansions, they should keep in mind the terrible injustices associated with them. The treatment of those who rebelled was sickening; more like the actions of barbarians than civilized persons.
As for the children’s graveyard, the death rate of children of all poor people, free or slave, was appallingly high. They succumbed to diphtheria, whooping cough, measles, pneumonia and poor nutrition.
Poor people were fortunate to raise even half of the number of children they bore. In the cemetery he mentions, they were all interred in one place.
But if you travel through Appalachia, you will find a disproportionate number of graves of those who died as infants and young children scattered throughout all the cemeteries.
What I would say to Mr. Cummings is tell the story of slavery, but be sure the listener understands that no one today is responsible for it.
Toby J. Russo