Contrast: Jefferson Davis and brother Joseph Davis – who empowered slaves

Joseph Emory Davis

A word about an amazing man, Joseph Davis.  His brother was Jefferson Davis, future President of the Confederacy.  He had a plantation, owned slaves, and was successful.   What is remarkable about Joseph Davis is that, despite his background and social standing in the Confederate  south, he was a gracious and benevolent man.  One who treated slaves humanely and provided opportunity through education.  If he had paid them a wage, well…

Davis was noted for his benevolence, and many youths of both sexes were indebted to him for a liberal education
Davis was noted for his benevolence, and many youths of both sexes were indebted to him for a liberal education

Joseph Davis ran his plantation very different from most slave owners:

His slaves were literate, had their own school, and plantation overseers were prohibited from using whips. He even allowed his slaves to have their own justice system — with a jury of their peers.

Benjamin Montgomery, 1819–1877
Benjamin Montgomery, 1819–1877 Influential African-American inventor, landowner, and freedman – wiki

Benjamin T. Montgomery

Even more outstanding was one of Joseph’s slaves, the most influential on the plantation. Benjamin Montgomery owned a store and had several businesses out of state.  “Impressed with his knowledge and abilities to run the store, Davis placed Montgomery in charge of overseeing the entirety of his purchasing and shipping operations on the plantation. The Davis family also taught him many other skills including land surveying, flood control, and architecture.” – wiki

In 1866, right after the Civil War, Joseph Davis sold Montgomery his land.

The community continued as a cooperative until the 1880s, but economic depression led Isaiah Montgomery, Benjamin’s son, to found a new community further away.

– from Smithsonian Museum of African American History and Culture

Leave a Reply