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From #Antebellum to #BlackLivesMatter: A Study Tour of Natchez, Mississippi
In the 1850s, when cotton was king (and, as some would say, the “cocaine crop” of its era), Natchez was reputed to have more millionaires than any other city in the country. Known as “the Hamptons of the South,” Natchez was the riverside city of choice for wealthy planters to escape the heat and isolation of their cotton and sugar cane plantations. They built opulent mansions to show off their vast wealth, and developed social clubs and garden clubs to organize their society. By the start of the Civil War, “The Forks of The Road” slave market just outside Natchez’s city limits was the second largest in the South. Because they were loyal to their city and to their national trade networks, the planter citizens of Natchez didn’t foster strong secession sentiments. Natchez quickly surrendered to the Union Army in 1862, leaving the city intact when other great southern cities were sacked.
Led by Stephen Fox and local historians, the tour will begin and end at the Baton Rouge airport, with stops along iconic Highway 61 to and from Natchez. We will enjoy classic Southern cuisine, explore the waterfront and the downtown churches and synagogue, a city townhome built by the free black businessman William Johnson above his barber shop, and meticulously preserved antebellum houses. We will lodge in one of these, a house called Monmouth, built in 1818 and now a National Historic Landmark sitting on 26 beautifully landscaped acres.