Juneteenth And The Transatlantic Slave Trade
While 45 of 50 states recognize Juneteenth as either a state holiday, ceremonial holiday, or day of observance, many things we take for granted today such as the coffeehouse, tea rooms and the international city of London are examples of things that once flourished off the backs of enslaved labor through the transatlantic slave trade.
Furthermore, Tonyn was instrumental in bringing his brother-in-law planter Francis Levett to Florida. A member of a well-connected English merchant family, Levett established his initial Julianton Plantation on a 10,000-acre tract along the St. Johns River. A loyalist, his son Francis Levett, Jr. eventually abandoned Florida and established a second Julianton Plantation near Sapelo Island, Georgia, becoming the first to plant Sea Island cotton in America. Levett’s lasting legacy on Jacksonville comes in the name of Julington Creek after his wife and Tonyn’s sister Julia.
Zephaniah Kingsley Sr. was another low country planter with that was initially an affluent British merchant with ties to London. Kingsley was one of the British East India Company merchants forced by mobs to dump his tea consignment into the water during the Tea Act of 1773. His son, Zephaniah Kingsley, Jr. owned several plantations throughout Northeast Florida including Laurel Grove in Orange Park, Kingsley Plantation on Fort George Island and White Oak Plantation in Western Nassau County.
By the 1790s, profits from plantation products and the sale of enslaved people had resulted in great wealth and affluence in London that can still be seen in the city’s architecture, parks, museums and educational resources today. At London’s Canary Wharf, the West India Docks is a resulting physical manifestation of the transatlantic slave trade in London. To store their plantation produced products being shipped to England, London’s richest slave owners built the massive docks between 1800 and 1806.
At the time of its completion, it was the largest dock complex in the world and a monopoly for slave owners shipping products cultivated on plantations from the Americas into London. Over 3,100 ships departed from the city, carrying nearly a million across the Atlantic into slavery, making London the world’s fourth largest slave trading port (behind Liverpool and the Brazilian ports of Rio de Janeiro and Bahia) and a major benefactor of prosperity produced off the back of slavery.
Introduced in Texas during the 1820s, by the Civil War the cultivation of sugar cane had become a major crop for planters prior to Juneteenth, such as Barzoria, Fort Bend, Matagorda and Wharton counties. In fact, Sugar Land, a large suburban community just southwest of Houston draws its name from a large sugar plantation that was located in the area prior to the Civil War. Naturally sugar production in the region suffered as a result of Juneteenth. Following the elimination of slavery across the Caribbean, London’s docks eventually became Britain’s largest port for another century before being made obsolete by containerization.
After 1980, the docks where London’s slaving ships once sailed from, were redeveloped into a modern mixed-use district known as the Docklands. Today, Warehouse One, initially produced to store plantation produced sugar, lives on as a mixed use complex featuring a history museum with an exhibit dedicated to sharing the story of this dark era of our past and its lasting impact on one of the world’s most well known cities.
Happy Juneteenth Day!
Article by Ennis Davis, AICP. Contact Ennis at firstname.lastname@example.org