By Alan Huffman
The gripping tale of 2 hundred freed Mississippi slaves who sailed to Liberia to construct a brand new colony—where the colonists’ repression of the local tribes may beget a sad cycle of violence. whilst a prosperous Mississippi cotton planter named Isaac Ross died in 1836, his will decreed that his plantation, Prospect Hill, may be liquidated and the proceeds from the sale be used to pay for his slaves’ passage to the newly validated colony of Liberia in western Africa. Ross’s heirs contested the desire for greater than a decade within the kingdom courts and legislature—prompting a dangerous insurrection within which a bunch of slaves burned Ross’s mansion to the ground—but the desire was once finally upheld. The slaves then emigrated to their new domestic, the place they battled the neighborhood tribes and outfitted massive plantations with Greek Revival mansions in a area the Americo-Africans renamed “Mississippi in Africa.” The seeds of resentment sown over a century of cultural clash among the colonists and tribal peoples might explode within the overdue 20th century, begetting a civil struggle that rages in Liberia to at the present time. within the award-winning culture of Slaves within the relatives, this captivating paintings strains an epic legacy that sweeps from the slave quarters of the antebellum South to the war-ravaged streets of modern day Monrovia. monitoring down Prospect Hill’s dwelling descendants, decoding a heritage governed by means of rumor, and providing the total chronicle in riveting prose, journalist Alan Huffman has rescued a misplaced bankruptcy of yank historical past whose aftermath is much from over.
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Extra info for Mississippi in Africa: The Saga of the Slaves of Prospect Hill Plantation and Their Legacy in Liberia
Ross (her ﬁrst cousin) was performed by Rev. S. S. S. senator, he was also among the prominent Americans mentioned in the Public Broadcasting Service report. Laverne McPhate seems unperturbed when I throw out this provocative tidbit, and allows that history and family lore are notoriously inexact. It is sometimes difﬁcult just to keep the branches of the family tree straight, she says, because so many names are repeated over time. Records of births and deaths in family Bibles and the tombstones at Prospect Hill seem fairly reliable, but even they must be closely scrutinized.
When the elderly woman suffered a stroke, the young slave was assigned the task of fanning her and keeping the ﬂies away. Taking advantage of the time when the two were alone, the slave would strike the woman across the face with the fan, knowing that she could not tell anyone. “I done that woman bad,” the slave admitted. ” After the mistress died, “all the slaves come in the house just a hollering and crying and holding their hands over their eyes, just hollering for all they could,” she said.
From all appearances Ross’s children ascended easily through local society and were poised to make their way in the world when the series of tragedies began unfolding. Descendant Annie Mims Wright wrote that the ﬁrst was the death of the ﬁancé of Ross’s daughter Martha, in a duel in 1813. According to family accounts, a messenger galloped up the drive to Prospect Hill on the day of the couple’s intended marriage to deliver the news that the young man was preparing to ﬁght a duel in nearby Rodney.