Historic Dark Day

Submitted by ub on

January 15 marks a tragic anniversary 195 years ago when the executors of Thomas Jefferson sold 130 enslaved people from Monticello.

Thomas Jefferson was an American statesman, diplomat, lawyer, architect, philosopher, and Founding Father who served as the third president of the United States from 1801 to 1809. monticello.org

This is how they advertised the devastation they would bring on scores of families.

More than 70 years later, Reverend Peter Fossett, who'd been forcibly sold from his family at age 11, reflected in a newspaper how he was "put upon an auction block and sold to strangers." It is the only firsthand printed account of the sale from a Black person's perspective.

Jefferson's executors sold an estimated 200 enslaved people in the years after his death. This was in an attempt to cover Jefferson's massive debts. The fates of the vast majority of people sold remain unknown.

Historians went to the OH in the 90s, elder congregants remember hearing about Reverend Fossett. In 1900, the congregation raised funds to grant Rev. Fossett his wish--to return to Monticello, where he was born. He returned, greeted at the main entrance.