“It was just not what we expected.”
“I was depressed by the time I left.”
“ … the tour was more of a scolding of the old South.”
“The brief mentions of the former owners were defamatory.”
“Would not recommend.”
These are a few of the apparently negative reviews posted online about guided tours of Southern plantations, some of which went viral Thursday after former Colorado congressional candidate Saira Rao tweeted an image of one.
Approximately 12.5 million human beings were kidnapped from their homes in Africa and shipped to the New World from 1514 to 1866, according to historian Henry Louis Gates Jr. One in eight died en route. Most were sent to South America. In 1860, the Census counted approximately 4 million enslaved people in the United States, according to PolitiFact.
“Would not recommend. Tour was all about how hard it was for the slaves,” wrote one reviewer of the Whitney Plantation in Louisiana.
Slaves who lived on plantations typically worked 10-16 hours a day, six days a week, according to the University of Houston’s Digital History. Children as young as 3 were put to work.
“I was depressed by the time I left and questioned why anyone would want to live in South Carolina,” read one review posted to Twitter about the McLeod Plantation in Charleston.
In 1860, 402,406 people were living in South Carolina not because they wanted to, but because they were enslaved. They made up 57 percent of the state’s population, according to census data.
“I felt [the African American tour guide] embellished her presentation and was racist towards me as a white person,” another McLeod visitor wrote.
In 1993, historian Clarence J. Munford estimated the value of the labor performed by black slaves in the United States between 1619 and 1865, compounded with 6 percent interest, to be $97.1 trillion. In today’s dollars, without further compound interest added, that would be $172 trillion.
“Our guide Olivia offered a heavy bias with only the hand-picked facts that neatly fit her narrative and for a large part weren’t germane to a plantation tour,” one person said of the McLeod Plantation, according to a review posted to Twitter, before following up with the racist comment, “I found it amusing when she told us some freed slaves fled to northern cities like Baltimore and Detroit where they continued to thrive to this day!”
As many as 100,000 people escaped slavery on the Underground Railroad, according to historian James A. Banks.
“There is really nothing good you can say about slavery but I felt [the tour guide] took it too far. His information is correct but I think he left off part of the story,” one review read.
This month, Virginia will commemorate the arrival of the first enslaved Africans in 1619, which ushered in 246 years of brutal subjugation for millions of men, women and children. One of those slaves was named Angela.
“If you’re looking to visit a traditional plantation, look elsewhere,” one review read.
Many plantations, including George Washington’s Mount Vernon and Thomas Jefferson’s Monticello, are working to present a more accurate image of what life was like for slaves and slave owners.
For those who may prefer a fuzzier, less accurate portrayal of plantation life, “Gone with the Wind” is streaming on Amazon and iTunes for $3.99 — a low price but still higher than the average slave’s wage, which was $0.
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