Vance Birthplace : Chapter Two

The ruling social class within a society usually has an interest in quieting the voices of those whom are different from itself. In the United States that has historically meant Native American tribes, African-Americans, and those who are not heterosexual having the abuses and very lives covered up by ethnically European heterosexual people. In public history, there has been and can be push-back from the controlling class against stories of people that it would rather have silenced, yet as historians we must do our utmost to offer a full encompassing and unbiased story of the past to the public. At the Vance Birthplace, there have been strides to bring the full story to the public, which includes the slaves owned by the Vance family, and the many African-Americans that Governor Vance targeted with vagrancy laws to imprison and force into labor. Just a few years back, the Vance Birthplace had little to nothing to say about the slaves who lived there and worked for the Vance family. Now that has changed, and we have the names of nearly every slave owned by the Vance family, and some detailed information on a few of them. The tour itself is being reworked to be longer and more detailed, and it shall include the slave cabin and information on a few of the slaves who would have lived there. The exhibit on Governor Vance’s life has already been changed to include the historic fact that he used vagrancy laws to incarcerate African-American men and force them into one of the most dangerous jobs possible, working upon the railroad. A great many African-American men died working to build this railroad, and many have been content to ignore their story for the sake of Governor Vance’s pride, and the pride of Asheville.

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