Friday, July 31, 2009

The Hermitage

July 27
This is turning out to be a bit of a Presidential road trip -- as well as a fiber road trip. The two come together as we tour the Hermitage, on the outskirts of Nashville.

The Hermitage was the home of General Andrew Jackson, seventh President of the US. It was also a cotton plantation. Much more than the modern Presidential libraries we have toured, this mansion -- like those of other early Presidents -- displays a combination of history, archaeological evidence, and a great deal of speculation about the lives of the President and the others who lived on the estate.

It appears that those who lived here at the time of Jackson numbered around 200 -- most of whom were Black slaves. Jackson is noted to have been an early crafter of the tenets of democracy and founder of the Democratic party. But he was a man of many paradoxes, most notably in his ownership and treatment of his slaves, and in having been the architect of the "Trail of Tears." The Trail of Tears was the forceful eviction of native peoples from southeastern lands to central U.S. territory that had been identified to house the Indian peoples.

The income that sustained Jackson and his plantation, and the work of the 1,100 acre plantation, was primarily based on cotton. With the hard labor of slave field hands and slave skilled craftspersons, the cotton was grown, harvested, ginned, and carded; and some of it spun and woven to sew simple garments, likely for the slaves to wear.

Some similar processes, but a far cry from the textile craft work that I so enjoy!

The pretty green and tan yarn that I found at Hillcreek Fiber Workshop in Missouri is spun primarily from cotton. How this journey all interconnects...

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