Tag Archives: L. Q. C. Lamar

Emory and a slave ship

Kwesi DeGraft-Hanson is a landscape architect who has a PhD from Emory and an eye for history–especially history that’s been camouflaged by landscapes and hardscapes. History buried by time’s transformation of place.

His keenest interest focuses on the hidden landscapes of slavery–the locations of slave cabins whose foundations are barely visible; the sites of old slave markets in city squares with no historical markers acknowledging that commerce; fields of cotton now harvested by machine but long ago harvested by enslaved hands.

He has a fascinating story to tell.

His tale begins in the 18th century and comes all the way to the present, with a significant chapter midway about “The Weeping Time”–the largest documented slave auction in US history. That heinous sale occurred in Savannah during two rainy days in March 1859.

When Kwesi learned of the auction he began to wonder where it had occurred, and what remained of the site. As he dug into the story he found two interesting though indirect connections to Emory.

One is the name Lamar. The site of the sale was the Ten Broeck Race Course, established in 1857 by the Savannah Jockey Club. President of that club was one Charles Augustus Lafayette Lamar, a Savannah aristocrat with an egregious sense of entitlement and heedless ambition. Both led him to an early death at the front of a Confederate charge in what is widely regarded as the last battle of the Civil War, near Columbus, Georgia.

Charles Lamar
Charles August Lafayette Lamar Source, Georgia Historical Society

Lamar’s second cousin was Emory College alumnus L.Q.C. Lamar, class of 1845, about whom I’ve written before. Here you can see the family tree.

Lamar family tree
The Lamar Family Tree

 

There’s no direct connection between the Weeping Time and Emory, but Kwesi’s discovery of Charles Lamar’s kinship with L.Q.C. is new information.

A second note of interest is that Charles Lamar outfitted a yacht called the Wanderer to transport slaves from Africa to Georgia. This was more than half a century after Congress had outlawed the trans-Atlantic slave trade in 1807, so the yacht was intended to be fast enough to outrun US Navy ships. In October 1858 Charles Lamar’s ship took on 487 slaves at the Congo River; six weeks later the Wanderer landed at Jekyll Island, Georgia, with 409 survivors. The logbook of┬áthe Wanderer now is housed in Emory’s Stuart A. Rose Library.

Logbook of The Wanderer
Logbook of the Wanderer, Courtesy of the Rose Library, Emory University
Screen Shot 2016-02-17 at 3.02.47 PM
Page from the logbook of the Wanderer

In addition to delving into history, Kwesi aims to close an important circle for descendants of some of the enslaved men and women whose lives were changed forever on those days of the slave auction. By dogged research and amazing coincidence, he and one of those descendants found each other through the miraculous tools of the Internet. Kwesi hopes to bring her and her family to Savannah for a look at that hidden landscape of the Weeping Time. A fuller account of his story is here.

It is history in service to those who were long overlooked and largely unremembered. They–and we–can thank Kwesi DeGraft-Hanson.

Gary Hauk

 

 

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L.Q.C. Lamar and Henry Adams

It’s exhilarating to stumble upon unexpected relationships. Reading The Education of Henry Adams on New Year’s Day, I found a surprising Emory connection in this memoir by a consummate Boston Yankee.

Great-grandson of John, grandson of John Quincy, and son of Lincoln’s minister to Great Britain, Henry Adams rose to his own heights of achievement and renown as a journalist, historian, and memoirist.

Henry Adams, photo by Marian Hooper Adams, courtesy of Massachusetts Historial Society
Henry Adams. Photo by Marian Hooper Adams. Courtesy of Massachusetts Historical Society.

Boston-born, Harvard-educated, he made Washington, DC, his home for the last half of his long life. His mansion at Lafayette Square, now the site of the Hay-Adams Hotel, was a social gathering place for the most eminent intellectuals of his day.

During the Civil War, the young Adams served in London as private secretary to his father, Charles Francis Adams, whose job it was to keep the British from recognizing the Confederacy. While there, Henry briefly met a man whom he would get to know well in Washington after the war — L. Q. C. Lamar, Emory College class of 1845.

LQC Lamar
Lucius Quintus Cincinnatus Lamar, 1845C. Photo by Matthew Brady. Library of Congress.

Georgian by birth, Lamar served as a Congressman from Mississippi before the Civil War but resigned when Mississippi seceded. The Confederate government sent him abroad as minister to Russia, with a brief stay in London. After the war and amnesty, Lamar again served in Congress. (See Emory Makers of History.)

Lamar’s defense of secession and slavery before the war is indefensible. His reputation now rests on his post-war efforts toward reconciliation between North and South and on his integrity at the risk of his political career (he is the only Deep Southerner profiled in JFK’s Profiles in Courage).

Henry Adams, writing in 1907, had this to say about Lamar, who died in 1893: He “had grown to be one of the calmest, most reasonable and most amiable Union men in the United States, and quite unusual in social charm. In 1860 he passed for the worst of Southern fire-eaters, but he was an eccentric by environment, not by nature; above all his Southern eccentricities, he had tact and humor. . . . He would have done better in London [than the Confederacy’s actual minister to Britain]. . . . London society would have delighted in him; his stories would have won success; his manners would have made him loved; his oratory would have swept every audience; even [those unsympathetic to the Confederacy] could never have resisted the temptation of having him to breakfast between Lord Shaftesbury and the Bishop of Oxford” (from Chapter XII).

It would have been fascinating indeed to hear these two — one a former slave owner, the other an ardent slavery-hater, both of the highest intelligence and mutual respect — in dinner conversation at Lafayette Square circa 1885.