Slavery at The Hermitage

Understanding the Legacy of Slavery at The Hermitage

Slavery

Slavery is part of American history until 1865 that should not be ignored. We realize that slavery and racism are directly tied to each other. Andrew Jackson’s Hermitage supports racial justice. We do not stand for racism, and our desire is to bring to light the stories of the enslaved workers who lived at The Hermitage during Jackson’s time. We believe it is our responsibility to educate our visitors on the past to make better decisions about our present and future in terms of equity and justice. Then, we will be able to pave a better way forward.

Stories of Enslaved Families

In all reality, slavery was the source of Andrew Jackson’s wealth. The Hermitage was a 1,000 acre, self-sustaining plantation that relied completely on the labor of enslaved African American men, women and children. They performed the hard labor that produced The Hermitage’s cash crop, cotton. The more land Andrew Jackson accrued, the more slaves he procured to work it. Thus, the Jackson family’s survival was made possible by the profit garnered from the crops worked by the enslaved on a daily basis.

When Andrew Jackson bought The Hermitage in 1804, he owned nine enslaved African Americans. Just 25 years later, that number had swelled to more than 100 through purchase and reproduction. At the time of his death in 1845, Jackson owned approximately 150 people who lived and worked on the property.

Learn About The Families

Slave Sites & Living Quarters

Hermitage archaeologists have located thirteen slave living quarters in three different areas of the property: the work yard north of the mansion – used mostly for house slaves, the Field Quarter, and First Hermitage areas – used for skilled and field slaves.

EXPLORE THE QUARTERS

Historic Slave Sites at The Hermitage

  • The First Hermitage

    The First Hermitage served as Jackson’s original farmhouse. This historical cabin was converted into slave quarters when Jackson built the mansion at The Hermitage. About the First Hermitage

  • Field Quarter

    The slaves who toiled in the fields lived with their family units in the more distant Field Quarter. Footprints of these buildings uncovered through archaeology give insights into the lives of its inhabitants. About the Field Quarter

  • Farm Buildings

    Remnants of farm buildings used on Jackson’s plantation lie in the cotton fields just beyond the First Hermitage. These include the cotton gin house and press. About the Farm Buildings

  • Outbuildings

    Dozens of outbuildings were necessary to operate the 1,000-acre cotton plantation. Remains of several of these, including the yard cabin and ice house can be explored by visitors to The Hermitage. About the Outbuildings

Alfred Jackson

Alfred lived at The Hermitage longer than any other person, white or black. As part of the enslaved community, the 1,000-acre, self-sustaining plantation relied completely on the labor of enslaved African American men, women and children.

Alfred Jackson’s Story

Enslaved Memorial

Funded by the Cracker Barrel Foundation, Our Peace, Follow the Drinking Gourd stands as a memorial for the enslaved individuals while at the same time providing a place for everyone to reflect upon the continuing legacy of slavery.

Learn More

Untold Stories

Though thousands of original documents written by or to Andrew Jackson have survived to the present, the majority of people who lived at The Hermitage did not write a single word. For almost 200 years, their histories remained untold until the 1970s, when Archeologists began uncovering the mysteries of their lives. Since then, nearly 800,000 associated artifacts have been discovered, analyzed, catalogued and curated. Visit our archive to learn more.

VISIT THE ARCHIVE

The Hermitage Enslaved: A Wagon Tour

Available Thursdays – Mondays | Limit 12 people per tour | $12 per person

The Hermitage Enslaved: A Wagon Tour takes visitors beyond the Hermitage mansion and into the plantation fields where the majority of the enslaved men, women and children worked and lived under the ownership of Andrew Jackson.

  • The Hermitage Enslaved: A Wagon Tour Tickets
    $12/person (plus general admission)
  • Children 5 and under
    Free

In Their Footsteps: Lives of the Hermitage Enslaved Tour

1 p.m. Thursdays – Mondays | $45 Per Person

The “In Their Footsteps” walking tour highlights the lives of the enslaved men, women and children who worked within the mansion during the life of Andrew Jackson and their stories beyond Jackson’s death and emancipation.

  • In Their Footsteps Tickets
    $45/person

Frequently Asked Questions

Who were the enslaved families at the hermitage and what were their occupations?

Here are the names of the known Hermitage enslaved families and their occupations by family groups. Heads of families are underlined with their children listed below them and successive generations indented.