Thursday, January 5, 2012

Trip to Durham’s Civil War history

If you’re up for a trip to Durham next month, there are two intriguing programs focused on enslaved people. They are offered as part of North Carolina’s commemoration of the 150th anniversary of the Civil War.

On Feb. 12 at Historic Stagville, "To Free A Family" will include a free lecture and book signing by Dr. Sydney Nathans, Duke University history professor emeritus. Stagville comprises the remnants of one of the largest plantations of the pre-Civil War South. The owners, the Bennehan-Cameron family, had combined holdings totaling almost 30,000 acres of land and about 900 slaves by 1860. Stagville offers a view of the past, especially that of its African-American community, by allowing visitors to guide themselves around its extensive grounds.

On Feb. 16 at Bennett Place, Reginald Hildebrand, UNC-Chapel Hill
historian, will lecture on "The First Year of Freedom in North Carolina: Pursuing Freedom with the Hoe and the Sword, the Book and the Lord." There is an admission charge.

Bennett Place is the site of the largest troop surrender of the Civil War. A simple farmhouse, Bennett Place was situated between Confederate Gen. Joseph E. Johnston's headquarters in Greensboro, and Union Gen. William T. Sherman's headquarters in Raleigh. In April 1865, the two commanders met at the Bennett family’s home, where they signed surrender papers for Southern armies in the Carolinas, Georgia, and Florida.

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