Our stay at Hopsewee has been challenging (sleeping) but overall excellent. Last night we arrived to the plantation and was able to relax, play ultimate frisbee, take a nap before a heartening meal prepared by the home’s caretakers, Eva and Gabriel. But it was the conversation on the Tea Room’s back porch after dinner over Mint Lemonade and Sweet Tea that was truly excellent. For over an hour teachers, students, Mr. McGill broke down all that we have seen and done so far with a pleasant breeze cooling us from the nearby North Santee River — and it has been a lot. Gabriel took part in our conversation and provided an inspirational talk to the boys. The CW Adventure has made great friends here. Truly awesome night. You can read my account of the sleeping in one of these slave cabins in the previous post but I wanted parents to know your boys made it… Here is evidence below. We had a delicious breakfast here as well that included ham and eggs, grits, biscuits, orange juice and of course, coffee.
* Adam Armstrong and I participated in an online/phone interview with a local historian and Mr. McGill last night as well. You can listen to that interview here:
Student reactions to Hopsewee and the slave cabins: More students will respond to this evening’s stay at Magnolia Plantation.
Slave cabins are barely functional as sleeping quarters and nothing else. The cabins are well preserved and kept, but they are not bug proof. –Paul B. Scheidt
Last night we discussed why slaves did not rebel and try to run away. We said that it was because there was no other life known to them and the chances of successfully escaping were slim. The slave cabins at Hopsewee Plantation represented what slaves endured. Close sleeping quarters and mosquitos reminded me that you can anywhere there is a roof. –Sam Mintner
When I first walked into the slave cabins, I saw the dust, spiders, and sharp farm equipment that were barely connect to the walls. Because there was little room in the cabins, I decided to sleep in a tent. However I soon learn that there were poisonous snakes roaming the grounds. Now I realize the horrible conditions that all slaves had to work though. –Adam Thota
Arriving at the Hopsewee Plantation yesterday, I immediately recognized the slave cabins in front. However, when I investigated the plaques around the plantation, I realized that in those cabins lived just the house slaves. There was another entire street filled with more ramshackle and run-down cabins for the hundreds of slaves working the land. I couldn’t help but think of the poor distribution of power and wealth in this institution, and how this evolved over time through sharecropping and the Robber Barons in the Gilded Age. Through Reconstruction, the Southern slave-owners succeeded in perpetuating and passing on their way of life.
Last night we discussed what slaves could do when they were free, and the fear of what may happen to you or your family if you choose to escape. The slaves didn’t have a lot to go on. No education, illiterate, and they couldn’t read or write. The only life they knew was the life of a slave. Sleeping in the cabins was a powerful experience. I sat there and pouted about all the mosquitos and huge spiders, but then I realized what the people who had to live here went through. How much they had to go through every day. How they had to go from these horrible sleeping conditions to an even worse workday. It really was an eye opener for me last night. I can’t wait to see the next one. –Brett McCormick
The discussion last night gave me modern-day examples of how “Civil Wars” are still going on today. There are still people who face something very similar to slavery; including extreme poverty, modern concentration camps, and oppressive governments. Just as many people in the Union signed up to go to war to defend what they believed right, it is our job to stand up against what we believe is wrong.
Last night in the slave cabin was challenging for me. Even with bug spray, mosquitoes were everywhere and I was scared to let my hand touch the ground in fear of other bugs. I woke up many times trying to get comfortable on the hard ground. Overall, I did not get much sleep. This made me think of the fact that slaves dealt with this every day, and that was the least of their problems. Last night helped me to realize what the Union was trying to fight against. –Evan Treacy
Overall, I’d say my night in the slave cabin was pretty nice, if only for the copious amounts of mosquito repellant that I had to apply over every square centimeter in my body. I was also concerned by the rainfall that loomed over our roof a few times, given that there were a few tiny cracks in the roof. Nevertheless, I got through the night with a good and surprisingly dry sleep. Whether or not there are any mosquito bites that I missed, only time will tell. Of course, I had a sleeping pad, a camping bag, and an economy-sized can of Off. Slaves likely had none of these luxuries. How would you spend your life in an open cabin while being a buffet for every skeeter in the area? This gives a hint towards what sort of conditions a slave (a house slave, who generally had it better than the field slaves) had to undergo in the South. — Jon Berens
Here is a Group Photo this morning in front of one of the cabins with our wonderful Hosts, Eva and Gabriel, below: