Skip to main content
  • Diary of an Anti-Slavery Plantation Daughter

    According to Georgia historian Melanie Pavich-Lindsay, the Butler family came to Georgia from South Carolina and eventually amassed plantations and hundreds of slaves on St. Simons Island. Fanny Kemble was very troubled by slavery and wrote of her Georgia experiences in her diary, Journal of a Residence on a Georgia Plantation in 1838-1839. It became quite famous in Great Britain and northern states for its antislavery message.

    Support Materials

    Discuss

    1. Why was the Butler Plantation unique in the South?

    2. What influence do think being from England had on Fanny Kemble's attitudes towards slavery? 

    Expansion

    1. After seeing the video and answering the questions, write a week’s worth of diary entries that could have been written by Fanny Kemble while she was on the Georgia plantation.

    2. Discuss the reasons why a diary could have such a powerful impact on a reader. Can students name other published diaries that have had an impact on readers? Locate a copy of Fanny Kemble’s diary and read some passages aloud. Ask students to respond by writing a paragraph reacting to it.

    Vocabulary

    abasement: the demotion of one to a lower level of status
    ambivalence: the state of feeling conflicting emotions on a subject
    arraignment: an accusation
    ineffable: something impossible to express with words
    profligacy: ostentatious extravagance or excessive indulgence in a moral wrong, characterized by a lack of restraint
    squalor: conditions characterized by filth and neglect

    For Teachers

    Discussion Guide

    1. Why was the Butler Plantation unique in the South? 
    Pierce Butler had a great deal of wealth, with which he could buy land and slaves, utilizing both to plant a cotton and rice, which in turn could be sold for more money allowing the plantation to grown in size and scope--making it quite big compared to that of an average slave owner. 

    2. What influence do think being from England had on Fanny Kemble's attitudes towards slavery?
    Answers may vary. But students may note that Slavery had already been abolished in England and and her family had worked not in manufacturing and farming, but in the arts. Thus Kemble's views towards southern slavery may be influenced by her life elsewhere. 

    Explore More