Wednesday, February 22, 2012

The Low Country- a visit and a bit of the past

     Long stretches of marshland extend in all directions from Charleston's harbor and the surrounding barrier islands  The landscapes are marked by water, church spire skylines, and the beauty of the Atlantic with miles of beaches illuminated by glorious sunsets.
     Charleston itself is called the holy city for its array of churches reminding us of the religious past (and these days, present) of this country.   Houses in town have the porches we imagine when we think of southern mansions, but because taxes were based on frontal space, porches often face the sides of the buildings giving an off center feel to the streets and an insight into economics, even of the wealthy who could afford such structures.
     And that leads, as it always does, to slavery.  The slave museum stands on the site of the slave market of Charleston, in operation until the 1860's.  As recently as the 1960's it was occupied by a car dealership.
     Here you can peruse copies of the records of sales with listings of human beings with their traits (good breeder, half worker, cotton and rice worker, butler, healer) and the cost of each.  Shocking to say the least.
     Not to forget that New York City had a bustling slave trade into the 1700's and in the 1990's construction in the financial district unearthed a slave cemetery.  Slavery is the dark spot on all of America but it's here in the South that the marshes remind of the slaves struggling to clear this land for the rice and cotton plantations.  Slavery is still present in the beach resort where not a single African-American face appears.  It's in our hearts as the landscape leaks the blood of those who came before us.

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