of the journal of William Campbell, leading four families and their enslaved people from Rockbridge County, Virginia to St. Charles County, Missouri…
Rain. Fleming County is richer than those we had before passed through; some good houses.*
Fleming County, in Kentucky, was formed in 1798 out of Mason County. The courthouse is of logs. Other families, with their slaves, from Fleming County had already migrated west to Missouri: Claiborne Fox Jackson who would become Missouri’s 15th Governor (Confederate) at the beginning of the Civil War in 1861. He and his brothers, all slaveowners, had moved to Arrow Rock (Missouri) in 1826. Jackson’s wife is the sister of the current (1829) Governor of Kentucky, John Breathitt. Campbell is apparently impressed with the County’s residents.
Slavery was an integral part of Kentucky’s economy from its beginning. In Lexington, slaves outnumbered slave owners: 10,000 slaves were owned by only 1,700 slave owners. Lexington was a central city in the state for the slave trade.It was not infrequent for slaves to be “hired out,” leased on temporary basis to other farmers or business for seasonal work. This was a common practice across the upper south. Some historians estimate that 12% of the slaves in Lexington and 16% of the slaves in Louisville were hired out.Kentucky contained small but notable free black hamlets throughout the state. About 5% of Kentucky’s black population was free by 1860. Free blacks were among the slaveholders in 1830, this group held slaves in 29 of Kentucky’s counties. In some cases, people would purchase their spouse, their children, or other enslaved relatives in order to protect them until they could free them. Conservative emancipation, which argued for gradually freeing the slaves and assisting them in a return to Africa, as proposed by the American Colonization Society, gained substantial support in the state from the 1820s onward. Cassius Marcellus Clay was a vocal advocate of this position. His newspaper was shut down by mob action in 1845. The anti-slavery Louisville Examiner was published successfully from 1847 to 1849.
In 1998, the Kentucky designated Fleming County as the Covered Bridge Capital of Kentucky. For more see http://www.flemingkychamber.com/museum.html
Archer was born enslaved by the Alexander family in Rockbridge County Virginia in 1806. In 1829, the Alexander family moved from Virginia to Dardenne Prairie in Saint Charles County, in Missouri. He lived there enslaved for over thirty years, working first in the brickyards of St. Louis, and then as a carpenter. By 1844, he had been sold to David Pitman, while his wife Louisa lived a few miles away. In the winter of 1863, Archer would risk his life to inform the Union Army that his owner had sabotaged the nearby railroad bridge. With his owner and a lynch mob in pursuit, he used a well known route of the Underground Railroad, to make his way to St. Louis. There he was taken in by William Greenleaf Eliot, a Unitarian minister, founder of Washington University, and a member of the Western Sanitary Commission. When Eliot’s close friend James Yeatman shared Charlotte Scott’s dream for a memorial to Lincoln in 1865, it would be another American hero Archer Alexander seen rising from his broken shackles alongside Lincoln on the Emancipation Monument in 1876. Today, the Emancipation Monument in Washington, D.C.’s Lincoln Park is in danger of being removed. This Federal Monument, was paid for entirely by the former enslaved people, as a memorial to President Lincoln. To sign the petition to keep it in place see https://www.change.org/EmancipationMonumentDC
*This is the journal of William Campbell (1805-1849) leading four families from Lexington, in Rockbridge County, Virginia to St. Charles County Missouri, written in 1829. There are 55 people in this caravan, 25 of which are enslaved. Among the enslaved is Archer Alexander.\This journal is located in the collections of the Leyburn Library, Special Collections and Archives, located at the Washington and Lee University, in Lexington, Virginia, and for which we are deeply indebted to Lisa McCown. Editor and author is Dorris Keeven-Franke.
The next entry in Campbell’s journal is September 17, 1829. https://archeralexander.wordpress.com/2020/09/17/17-september-1829/
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