In Celebration of Alex Haley’s 94th Birthday
Henning, Tennessee, August 5, 2015 — A groundbreaking exhibit about the slaves and slaveholders who worked and resided at a distinctive plantation in Tennessee will open at the Alex Haley Museum and Interpretive Center. The exhibit, Slaves and Slaveholders of Wessyngton Plantation, looks at the lives of both the enslaved African Americans and their white owners on the 13,000 acre plantation in Robertson County, Tennessee. It was organized by the Tennessee State Museum with support from the Tennessee Civil War National Heritage Area.
Through first and third person accounts, the exhibit will reconstruct the lives of several enslaved people, giving them names, faces, and the details of what happened to them before, during, and after the Civil War.
The plantation was established in 1796 by Joseph Washington, who moved to Tennessee from Virginia, and was later inherited by his son, George A. Washington. The Washingtons, through their business dealings, became incredibly wealthy, owning not only Wessyngton but also property and slaves in Kentucky. Wessyngton was one of the largest plantations in Tennessee in 1860 and the largest producer of tobacco in the U.S. In 1860, the Washingtons were one of the wealthiest families in Tennessee. The Washingtons, with two exceptions, never sold their slaves, and by 1860 owned 274. Slave families at Wessyngton had three to five generations living together, remarkable in a system that often separated. Exhibit on view until Saturday, September 26, 2015.