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A plantation complex in the Southern United States is the built environment or complex that was common on agricultural plantations in the American South from the 17th into the 20th century.


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Unsurprisingly, the phrase did not die with the single interview. The media spectacle was understandable.

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Collins English Dictionary provides two ways to define it: 1 a theory posited as an alternative to another, often more widely accepted, theory; 2 facetious a statement intended to contradict another more verifiable, but less palatable, statement. As early asEdward A. Generations of white southerners believed their ancestral war against the North was noble, and they suspected those outside the region were deliberately misrepresenting their history.

In this idyllic past, enslaved people were content in their bondage and enjoyed the benefits of white Christian civilization under the careful tutelage of the master class. Nostalgic whites and their descendants believed such stories were intentionally suppressed throughout the United States, and specifically requested that those who lived during the antebellum period document their reflections for future generations.

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He was, essentially, calling for the propagation of alternative facts. Slave weddings were an especially popular apologetic, as they manifested the purported interracial comradery of antebellum race relations. In these ceremonies, white masters and enslaved laborers shared a celebratory space that fulfilled the advertised goals of racial slavery. The plantation myth proved especially popular for many Americans a few generations removed from the Civil Warbut such ideas did not go unchallenged.

Black scholars like W. Du Bois and E. Franklin Frazier combated the stereotype of happy, content slaves who willingly labored for their masters and enjoyed familial stability.

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Though both men eventually gained prominence in the fields of Sociology and Black Studies, their ideas failed to penetrate contemporary American popular culture. The novel convinced many white Americans that the antebellum South represented a simpler era that was supposedly devoid of the racial tensions characterizing the early twentieth century. Even beyond popular culture, white scholars in the early twentieth century were also complicit in sympathizing with slave owners.

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Predictably, such myths still hold remarkable staying power. The recent debates surrounding Confederate monuments suggest that the United States is still reckoning with the ghosts of the Old South.

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In hindsight, its historic prominence provides a blueprint for how historians can approach the rise of alternative histories. Scholars must use public arenas to address, and contend against, bad ideas. If left unchallenged, the alternative facts of American slavery could, once again, obtain ificant popularity. He studies slavery, the African Diaspora, and the Atlantic world. Well put and accessible to lay readers and scholars alike. Such analyses are needed for the widest range of audiences as the basic issues are being resurrected in the monuments discourse.

As many local initiatives are emerging to construct more inclusive and hopefully accurate narratives, vigilance is needed to avoid a new kind of romanticism.

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Just acknowledging or including the Black presence in shared spaces does not equate to condemnation of an egregious monetary cooption of human labor. I completely agree. In addition to the wonderful work of Bryan Stephenson on the legacy of lynching, effort should be made to document, monument and celebrate the rise of black businesses and black professionals lawyers, doctors, educators, etc.

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This is well done in Washington, DC and it would be lovely to see throughout the nation. Great points all around. Thanks so much for reading.

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I am optimistic that initiatives will take place, but a location does need to be conscious of its history to make this happen. The University of South Carolina just commemorated the enslaved people who worked on the campus, I think largely in response to national discussions. Considering its history as the seed bed of secession, it is pretty monumental.

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My worry is that certain areas will believe they are detached from this history and the people will ignore the need to look honestly at their ancestors. Because of its predominantly patriarchal character, it was a relationship based on mutual affection and confidence. There has never been a multi-racial society which has existed in such mutual intimacy and harmony in the history of the world.

The concern we should have about miseducation regarding slavery is more than this or that telling of the Plantation myth is wrong, but more especially that the myth is being passed along to another generation of students. Definitely true, and thanks for that reference, I had not heard of that author.

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To your final point, I absolutely Agree. You can find it on my academia. ThAnks again for the comments!

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By Tyler Parry December 6, 5. Enslaved African Americans hoe and plow the earth and cut piles of sweet potatoes on a South Carolina plantation, circa Image courtesy of Library of Congress. Share with a friend:. Thanks again for your comments. Comments are closed.