Since we began this blog, our most asked questions have been about slave history at Oatlands. I’ve just finished reading The First Emancipator by Andrew Levy and I have to recommend this book wholeheartedly. This is the story of Robert Carter III, grandson of Robert “King” Carter and father of George Carter who built the Oatlands we see today. Robert Carter III arranged the freedom of his slaves (nearly 500 of them by the time he was done). And he did this in the 1790s, when others of the Revolutionary generation were struggling with the contradiction between the concepts of liberty and the realities of bondage.
Slaves were freed on all of Robert Carter III’s plantations, including his Leo plantation. His son George renamed Leo, calling it Oatlands.
If you love early American history and are curious why you’ve never heard of this act of emancipation, you need to read this book. Naturally, you can get it in Oatlands’ gift shop.