Hermitage in Davidson County, Tennessee — The American South (East South Central)
Fighting for Freedom
Breaking tools or feigning illness allowed some physical relief from the backbreaking and unending tasks of the day. Speaking out against the overseer or even the Jackson family brought a degree of emotional satisfaction. However, such actions also assured a violent reprisal from the lash as well as the tongue. It is likely that in most cases, the enslaved directed most of their resistance toward the overseer, since he managed their activities on a daily basis.
In individual cases, slavery may have been less brutal, but it was never benign.
...Mrs. Jackson informs me that her maid Betty has been putting on some airs, and has been guilty of a great deal of impudence...I have directed that the first impertinence she uses, or the first disobedience of orders, that she be publicly whipped. She can behave herself if she will and I have told her that Publickly whipped she shall be, the first offence. - Andrew Jackson to Andrew Jackson Donelson,
...if I live we will own fewer of them for they vex me often and in my situation it is hurtful... - Rachel Jackson to Andrew Jackson, April 7, 1814
I will thank you to say to Mr. Nicholson that my Negro fellow Gilbert has runaway on the 31rst. Of August – that I have not heard word of him since he left me; but from information it is probably he may attempt to go back to Alabama in his neighborhood & I wish him to keep a look out in that quarter for him. - Andrew Jackson to John Coffee, September 20, 1824
Few of us can imagine leaving everything we know to become a fugitive from an entire society. But some of the enslaved did just that, risking their lives to flee from The Hermitage. Gilbert had no family at The Hermitage.
Dick (the cook) has been sick. He made up his mind to trouble and annoy me as much as he can, and I am teaching a new cook... - Sarah Yorke Jackson to Rachel Jackson (Lawrence) July 27, 18(59)
Andrew Jackson advertised for the return of a runaway slave in 1804. Ads such as this ran continuously in Southern newspapers as slave owners attempted to recover their property.
While the Jacksons were in Florida during Jackson's term as Territorial Governor, Betty incurred Andrew Jackson's wrath by trying to earn money taking in laundry from others. She also angered him with her attitude.
Archaeologists have found three “fist charms” at The Hermitage, as well as several other sites around the country. All of these sites were associated with the enslaved. Although we are unsure of the exact meaning and use of these charms, the enslaved may have used them as a signaling device.
Erected by The Hermitage Foundation.
Location. 36° 13.11′ N, 86° 36.691′ W. Marker is in Hermitage, Tennessee, in Davidson County. Marker is on Field Quarter Trail. Touch for map. The marker is on the Field Quarter Trail at The Hermitage. Marker is in this post office area: Hermitage TN 37076, United States of America.
Other nearby markers. At least 8 other markers are within walking distance of this marker. The Hermitage Overseer (within shouting distance of this marker); Land Conservation at The Hermitage (within shouting distance of this marker); The Field Quarter Spring (about 300 feet away, measured in a direct line); Ginning and Pressing "King Cotton" (about 400 feet away); The North Cabin (about 400 feet away); Field Quarter Trail (about 500 feet away); Cabin-by-the-Spring (about 600 feet away); The Hermitage Landscape (about 600 feet away). Touch for a list and map of all markers in Hermitage.
Categories. • Abolition & Underground RR • African Americans • Anthropology •
Credits. This page was last revised on June 16, 2016. This page originally submitted on July 14, 2015, by J. Makali Bruton of Querétaro, Mexico. This page has been viewed 252 times since then and 44 times this year. Photos: 1, 2. submitted on July 14, 2015, by J. Makali Bruton of Querétaro, Mexico. • Andrew Ruppenstein was the editor who published this page.