During the holidays, the Drawing Room in Hampton Mansion is set up as it might have been for the presentation of Christmas presents to enslaved children. Hampton records show a Christmas list for the enslaved children form 1841-1854. The gift list records over 50 names of enslaved children over a decade and the corresponding gifts that were given, items like dolls, doll furniture, musical instruments, and toy soldiers.
There were black overseers in the earliest days of the Furnace and black managers of the Home Farm in the days of tenant farming. Black overseers supervised a very different sort of working environment than white overseers. Black overseers on the estate, such as Savee in 1745, oversaw small, interdependent groups of enslaved persons and indentured servants. In the days following Emancipation, black managers at the Home Farm, such as John Humphries, oversaw farm laborers who had some autonomy in how they went about their daily work.
James McHenry Howard, Margaretta Howard Ridgely’s half-brother, recorded in his memoir family stories and oral histories told to him of slave treatment at Hampton. In one incident, he records a day when “General Ridgely” (Governor Charles Carnan Ridgely) had an overseer deliver ten lashes to an enslaved man. Despite the pain of these lashes, the man showed pride and refused to apologize, causing a dismayed and angered Ridgely to dispense yet another ten lashes. In a battle of wills, the enslaved man remained “sullen and defiant” and refused to apologize. General Ridgely ordered ten more lashes with the angry admonition, “confound you why can’t you look pleased?” Kent Lancaster reports that so renowned were Ridgely’s discipline and Hampton’s reputation for slave order that neighboring plantations sent their slaves there to be “broken in.”
Last updated: June 7, 2020