Blogs > Cliopatria > Rumsfeld's Mount Misery

Jul 3, 2006 6:56 pm

Rumsfeld's Mount Misery

[Rebecca briefly lifts her head out of her dissertation.]

The new flap over the New York Times' travel section article about the small vacation community on the Eastern Shore of Maryland where Secretary Rumsfeld and Vice President Cheney have their summer homes is reaching ridiculous proportions, with some bloggers encouraging their readers to track down and photograph New York Times editors' children at school. But it seems to me we're missing the really interesting information in the article.

The houses have names. Mr. Rumsfeld's is Mount Misery and is just across Rolles Creek from a house called Mount Pleasant...there is some historical gravity to the name, too. By 1833, Mount Misery's owner was Edward Covey, a farmer notorious for breaking unruly slaves for other farmers. One who wouldn't be broken was Frederick Douglass, then 16 and later the abolitionist orator. Covey assaulted him, so Douglass beat him up and escaped."

I find it oddly appropriate that the Defense Secretary who has endorsed torture lives on a plantation where another man once beat and tortured slaves.

[Rebecca, having enjoyed this brief bloggy reprieve, puts her head back down in her dissertation.]

[Partial H/T to Andrew Sullivan]
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More Comments:

Rebecca Anne Goetz - 7/6/2006

Hum. I hadn't thought of it that way, but now that you mention it...thanks for the thoughts!

Dale B. Light - 7/4/2006

Excellent point Jonathan. I was about to make the same observation, but you beat me to it.

Jonathan Dresner - 7/4/2006

It's almost impossible to find, I'd guess, a building over 150 years old in this country (especially below the Mason-Dixon) that doesn't have a connection with slavery. Some of our most hallowed historical sites were slaveowning plantations, slave auction sites, etc.

That this one is actually famous is more a testament to the success of abolitionism -- you could almost as easily say that it's oddly appropriate that an architect of the liberation of Iraq lives in a house once occupied by a hard-charging , freedom-loving abolitionist -- than any kind of enduring legacy.

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