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Chatham Manor, Fredericksburg
(4.4/5 based on 220+ reviews on the web)
Chatham Manor is the Georgian-style home completed in 1771 by farmer and statesman William Fitzhugh, after about 3 years of construction, on the Rappahannock River in Stafford County, Virginia, opposite Fredericksburg. It was for more than a century the center of a large, thriving plantation, and one of the few locations visited both by President George Washington and later President Abraham Lincoln.Chatham also reflected the new country's racial tensions. In January 1805, Chatham's slaves overpowered and whipped their overseer and assistants in a minor slave rebellion. An armed posse of white men quickly gathered. They killed one slave in the attack, and two more died trying to escape capture. Two other slaves were deported, likely to the Caribbean or Louisiana, and Fitzhugh soon sold the property.Five decades later, in 1857, owner Hannah Jones Coalter (the 77-year-old mother of a disabled daughter named Janet), died and attempted to manumit her 93 slaves after making provision both for her daughter and them. Her relatives sued, claiming that after the Dred Scott decision, slaves were legally incapable of choosing whether to remain enslaved or receive their freedom and enough money to establish themselves in another state. While local judges thought the executors should free the slaves per Hannah's intent, a divided Virginia Supreme Court disagreed. Thus, the executors sold Chatham with its slaves to J. Horace Lacy (husband of Hannah's much younger half-sister Betty), although soon one slave was allowed to travel to raise money to buy freedom for herself and her small family, and succeeded.
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Reviews
TripAdvisor
  • Very well preserved house and garden with a good introductory film and some friendly informed young volunteers. Probably visit the battle field visitor centre first to get the orientation of house to ...  more »
  • This is s well preserved home rich in history and with a lovely views of the river. The park ranger was very friendly and told us all about the property. The gardens are very pretty, surely much prett...  more »
  • By all means visit Chatham Manor. In one place you will see history unfold - a splendid plantation built on slave labor, destruction during the Civil War and slaves freed, a country retreat for the ri...  more »