Category Archives: Florida History

More Correspondence about the Gamble Plantation

Wayne and readers,

I’ve been corresponding with the director of the Gamble Plantation State Park in Ellenton, Florida.

I sent him an e-mail with suggestions as to how to improve historical material at the Park, with a few ideas in mind: to clarify the role of black slaves in building and operating the plantation and mansion, and to describe properly who Judah Benjamin was before and during the Civil War and to explain why he was honored at a Florida State Park.

Mr. Kiser replied to my most recent e-mail. Here’s his reply, followed by my response to him.

I think that this is encouraging, and I’m hoping to work with him and his staff.

Bernard Continue reading


Filed under Civil War, Florida History, Slavery

Suggestions for the Gamble Plantation Park

Wayne and readers,

In earlier posts I described the Gamble Plantation State Park and Judah P. Benjamin Memorial. This is in Ellenton near the Manatee river, which empties into Tampa Bay. It dates to the decade before the Civil War, when Gamble and dozens of slaves tried to grow sugar cane.

I wrote a letter to the park manager, inquiring as to why there was little mention of the slaves and their lives, and why the Park was honoring Benjamin, a Louisiana plantation and slave owner and Confederate cabinet officer, who had nothing to do with Florida.

He replied, as you can read in this post. You can read my reply to him. I accepted his invitation to come by for a talk, but I haven’t heard back in two weeks with a proposed time. So I wrote to him again with what I intend to say, if I were to meet with him.

Here’s the letter: Continue reading


Filed under Civil War, Florida History, Slavery

There is little about the slaves who built and operated the Gamble Plantation


In Ellenton, Florida, near the southeastern shore of Tampa Bay, is the Gamble Plantation State Park. Linnea and I visited there.

Here’s the park’s web page.

Here’s one of the photographs from the web site:

It turns out that this pre-Civil War mansion was decaying until the United Daughters of the Confederacy purchased it and refurbished it as a memorial the Judah Benjamin, a wealthy Louisiana slave owner and Confederate government cabinet officer whose only connection to Florida is that he hid in the front bedroom for a few weeks during his escape to Britain at the War’s end.

While the informed tour guide knew about the slaves who lived here, built the place, and operated the sugar plantation, he only referred to them in response to my questions. There is nothing of slave life on display, and I saw no evidence of archeological investigation of slave life.

Notice that in the photograph, from the Manager’s Message, the three white ladies, standing with a 1920s coupe. No slaves or black people in sight. Actually, I haven’t read that Mr. Gamble had a wife with him, and his 200 slaves must have formed the majority of people who lived and worked there.

Thus I’ve written a letter to the Park Manager. The text is below.

I look forward to your comments and those of readers.

Bernard Continue reading


Filed under Florida History, Slavery