Remembering Another Loyal Body Servant in Alabama

One of my readers was kind enough to pass along this historical marker description from Alabama.  Another wonderful example of how public spaces were used to reinforce black subservience as Jim Crow gradually became a fact of life for blacks in the South.  Interestingly, the war referenced is the Mexican-American rather than American Civil War.  Of course, the story may in fact be true.  What is interesting, however, is why this story needed to be conveyed to the general public in 1890.

JAMES CANTEY
Location: Located on Alabama Highway 165, eight miles south of Phenix
City, Alabama, at Fort Mitchell.
Marker Dedication or Erection Date:  1890
SIDE 1:
Near here was the home of Confederate Brigadier General James Cantey who arrived in 1849 to operate a plantation owned by his father. Prior to coming to Russell County he had practiced law at his birthplace, Camden, South Carolina, and had represented his district in the State Legislature thee for two terms. Cantey fought in the Mexican War and received near mortal wounds. He was left among the dead but was rescued by his body servant whose plans were to bear him home for burial. The slave’s detection of a faint sign of life caused heroic action that revived his master. For this deed the servant was offered his freedom, which was refused.

1 comment… add one

  • Sally Greene Oct 5, 2008

    Interesting. I have written about a later example of this rhetoric appearing on a historical marker. This one is from the mid-1960s (my grandmother was involved in getting it approved, and I imagine that she either wrote or approved the text). I was able to write an AANB entry on this “faithful slave,” Meshack Roberts. He was so faithful to the idea of democracy that he ended up in the Reconstruction-era Texas legislature!

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