How Did This Failed Social Experiment Lead to Freedom?

The Old Plantation (Slaves Dancing on a South Carolina Plantation), ca. 1785-1795.
Leslie Taylor-Grover
July 8, 2020

Francis Wright wanted to test an idea. After years of studying slavery and the Southern economy, she decided she would leverage her sizable wealth to build Nashoba, TN: a utopia where enslaved people could be free, but plantation owners and the Southern U.S. could still make money. 

Was it too good to be true?

Unfortunately, for our people it was. The overarching plan was to eventually ship the formerly enslaved out of the U.S. so the Black population would remain small and without political power. Our ancestors would never own anything. But it got even worse.

Nashoba deteriorated. The community fell into scandal, and even the white people who lived there abandoned it. It was a complete failure.

The silver lining in this failure, though?

Jean-Pierre Boyer, a leader of the Haitian revolution and current President of Haiti, agreed to take all the Black people left in Nashoba to Haiti! He gave them farmable land to cultivate, and waived all fees and rents until they were established. 

The best part?

After four years, they were finally free! Our ancestors took risks for their freedom, and persisted even in the face of failure. 

Nashoba is a reminder for us to be skeptical of white saviors - and remember that, when it counts, it’s our own people who have our backs!

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