The Kingsley Plantation Tour is Fascinating
Kingsley Plantation, located in the Timucuan Ecological and Historic Preserve in Jacksonville, Florida, was once a prosperous estate under its owner, Zephaniah Kingsley, a man who owned slaves and fought for their freedom while supporting equality between races. Nowadays, visitors can enjoy a tour around the buildings and grounds of this famous plantation, enjoying a fascinating look back into history and the life of one of the more peculiar slaveholders of the early 19th century. The man himself, his many wives and children, and the slaves who toiled on his lands all had interesting stories to tell, and visitors can discover them all with a visit to Kingsley Plantation.
The plantation itself is open every day of the year, excluding the major holidays, from 9am until 5pm and is free to enter. Visitors are able to explore almost every part of the vast estate, discovering the conditions in which the slaves were forced to live and work, along with the beauty and luxury of the plantation house itself. The gardens, kitchens, barn, and other interesting locations are also open to visitors. Visitors can even bring leashed pets along for a stroll around the outside areas. Official guided tours take place at weekend and should be reserved in advance.
The history of the plantation is rather remarkable, with the estate already been well-established before the arrival of the eponymous Zephaniah Kingsley, who made the place his home in 1814. The primary crop of the plantation was Sea Island cotton, a particularly esteemed form of cotton due to its extra strong and long strands. This type of cotton was well-suited at the time for the production of particularly luxurious garments and was often mixed with silk to craft expensive cloths.
Kingsley arrived in the area having already freed and married one of his own slaves, a Senegalese woman called Anna whom Kingsley had purchased in Cuba. Anna was even allowed to manage some of Kingsley’s lands and own her own slaves. Kingsley went on to develop a polygamous family, having another three African “co-wives”. Relationships between slave owners and slaves were not uncommon at the time, but Kingsley’s was particularly unique due to the pride with which he exhibited his multi-racial family. He was especially content to show off his children to guests and provided for them as well as he possibly could.
Kingsley also actively lobbied for the rights of slaves, believing that slavery was a vital part of society’s development which benefited by slave and master alike. However, he did not believe that race was an important factor in slavery and that all African people should be subjugated. He toiled in politics in an attempt to give free black people more rights and was ultimately forced to send his family to Haiti as he failed to protect them. His story and beliefs are particularly interesting among a multitude of slaveholders renowned for their cruelty and prejudice, and visitors can learn all about his life and doings with a tour of the fascinating Kingsley Plantation.