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Hermitage in Davidson County, Tennessee — The American South (East South Central)
 

A Landscape Of Inequality

Enslaved Life at The Hermitage

 
 
A Landscape of Inequality Marker image. Click for full size.
By Sandra Hughes, September 25, 2010
1. A Landscape of Inequality Marker
Inscription. The idyllic planter’s life presented to white visitors by the Jackson family was based on the unpaid labor of over 150 enslaved black men, women, and children. Without the grueling labor of these individuals, the Jackson family could not have lived so lavishly. Of the enslaved workers that Andrew Jackson owned at the end of his life, only about ten worked in and around the mansion. A few more, such as the blacksmith and carpenter, had special skills. The majority of the enslaved, however, worked in Jackson’s fields, tending and harvesting his crops. With the variety of crops grown at The Hermitage, this sun-up to sundown fieldwork was nearly year round. Andrew Jackson followed a common “farm management” practice of his time keeping enslaved families together. Owners thought that this practice discouraged running away, since it was unlikely that an entire family could safely make their passage to freedom. In addition to encourage family units, Jackson also chose to cluster housing for the enslaved tightly to confine them to a small easily monitored area.

It was on this landscape of inequality that the enslaved forged their lives.
 
Location. 36° 12.917′ N, 86° 36.78′ W. Marker is in Hermitage, Tennessee, in Davidson County. Marker can
The Work Yard, The First Hermitage, Field Quarters. image. Click for full size.
By Sandra Hughes, September 25, 2010
2. The Work Yard, The First Hermitage, Field Quarters.
The enslaved lived in three housing areas that we call the “work yard, the “First Hermitage,” and the “Field Quarter.” We don’t know if the Jackson has had names for these different spaces. The slave cabins were approximately twenty by twenty with a loft. Entire families lived in these one-room cabins and undoubtedly performed many of their own, as well as the Jacksons’, chores outdoors.
be reached from Rachels Lane 0.3 miles east of Hermitage Road. Click for map. This marker is located in the backyard of the mansion at the rear gate. Marker is at or near this postal address: 4580 Rachels Lane, Hermitage TN 37076, United States of America.
 
Other nearby markers. At least 8 other markers are within walking distance of this marker. Explore The Hermitage Grounds (a few steps from this marker); Icehouse (a few steps from this marker); The Triplex (a few steps from this marker); The Work Yard (within shouting distance of this marker); The Hermitage Garden (within shouting distance of this marker); Alfred’s Cabin (within shouting distance of this marker); The Garden Privy (within shouting distance of this marker); The Architectural Evolution Of The Hermitage (within shouting distance of this marker). Click for a list of all markers in Hermitage.
 
Also see . . .  The Hermitage, The Home of President Andrew Jackson. (Submitted on February 10, 2012, by Bernard Fisher of Mechanicsville, Virginia.)
 
Categories. Antebellum South, US
 
Bells image. Click for full size.
By Sandra Hughes, September 25, 2010
3. Bells
Wires attached the bells on the back porch to pulls in several rooms of the mansion to summon slaves. For those who lived near the mansion, this meant being on-call twenty-four hours a day.
The List image. Click for full size.
By Sandra Hughes, September 25, 2010
4. The List
From lists, we know that most of the enslaved at The Hermitage lived in family groups, some of three generations. The slave community no doubt drew strength from this continuity and stability.
Large Back Porch image. Click for full size.
By Sandra Hughes, September 25, 2010
5. Large Back Porch
We often wonder why the mansion has such an elegant rear porch, since it overlooked such a busy workspace, rather than a pleasant view. It may be that the porch allowed the Jackson family to keep a watchful eye on the plantation actives and the three areas of slave housing. The trees later planted by the LHA would not have been there to block the view. The small building visible beyond the trees was the last remaining house at the Field Quarter. For the enslaved, the mansion loomed as a constant reminder that someone might be watching. The Jackson’s had ultimate control. The lives of the enslaved were not their own.
A Landscape Of Inequality Marker image. Click for full size.
By J. Makali Bruton, June 14, 2015
6. A Landscape Of Inequality Marker
Wide view of A Landscape Of Inequality Marker image. Click for full size.
By J. Makali Bruton, June 14, 2015
7. Wide view of A Landscape Of Inequality Marker
A Landscape of Inequality Marker image. Click for full size.
By Sandra Hughes, September 25, 2010
8. A Landscape of Inequality Marker
Marker is on the right just inside the fence.
A Landscape of Inequality ~Bell image. Click for full size.
By Sandra Hughes, September 25, 2010
9. A Landscape of Inequality ~Bell
 
 
Credits. This page originally submitted on , by Sandra Hughes of Killen, Usa. This page has been viewed 479 times since then and 10 times this year. Photos:   1, 2, 3, 4, 5. submitted on , by Sandra Hughes of Killen, Usa.   6, 7. submitted on , by J. Makali Bruton of Querétaro, Mexico.   8, 9. submitted on , by Sandra Hughes of Killen, Usa. • Bernard Fisher was the editor who published this page. This page was last revised on June 16, 2016.
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