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Syndic Literary Journal

National Geographic Timeline U.S. Slavery


Commentary by LeRoy Chatfield


It saddens and embarrasses me to report that after nineteen years of formal education, including post graduate work, I have no recollection of taking a class or hearing a lecture about the history of slavery in the United States and for this neglect I have no one to blame but myself.

It is only now, at age eighty-four years, after a visit to the Slave Museum (aka Whitney Plantation) in the New Orleans area that I have begun to learn about our nation’s original sin – slave trading and the use of hundred of thousands of slaves to enrich our country at their expense.

In my search for information about slavery in the United States, I found online an interactive timeline created by the National Geographic Society that helped me learn some of the basic facts about U.S. Slavery.  Their presentation succinctly documents the major dates in our history regarding the beginning, the use, and ultimately, the demise of slavery. It also introduces us to the major actors – some of them quite heroic – who worked to abolish slavery and also touches upon the profound suffering and plight of the slaves themselves.

  The presentation  uses  maps, photographs and other graphics that help to explain the rise and fall of what they refer to as “our nation’s peculiar institution.”

The link above will connect you to the National Geographic Timeline and I can say with confidence that whether, like me, you knew little or nothing about our nation’s history of slavery or whether you have been fortunate enough to study this issue and are well informed, you will not be disappointed.

John Cummings III, founder of the Whitney Plantation said: If you want to understand the United States of America, you have to understand slavery.  That has certainly been my experience since I discovered our country’s use of slavery.





Compiled/Published by LeRoy Chatfield
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