On the "Spanish Esplanade" overlooking the Mississippi River, there is a magnificent home that for years was believed to be the original home of one of the Spanish dons who colonized the area. Recently, this story was discovered to be a myth.
The original owner was actually a free man of color named Robert D. Smith, who built it himself in 1851, 12 years before the Emancipation Proclamation.
The new homeowners, Ruth and Jim Coy, have been actively pursuing the history of Robert Smith and they have a question. According to a recently discovered record, Smith arrived in New Orleans on a slave ship.
How did Robert Smith go from traveling on a ship full of captive individuals destined for servitude to owning a luxurious home?
The History Detectives trace the rise of this unique individual.
- Also in Civil War: 1850-1877 Civil War Submarine Is this submarine an example of new technology developed by the Confederates during the Civil War?
- Related Investigation Whaling Ship Might a ship docked in Mystic Seaport, hold secrets to the Underground Railroad?
- Also with Tukufu Zuberi Lubin Photos What do these photo albums reveal about the birth of the silver screen?
- Related Investigation Anti-Slavery Flag Did this old sheet found in a family trunk contribute to the end of slavery in America?
- Also with Tukufu Zuberi Transistor Radio Is this the oldest transistor radio in existence?
- Also in Civil War: 1850-1877 Snowshoe's Mailbag Was this the satchel Snowshoe Thompson used to deliver his mail?
This is a place for opinions, comments, questions and discussion; a place where viewers of History Detectives can express their points of view and connect with others who value history. We ask that posters be polite and respectful of all opinions. History Detectives reserves the right to delete comments that don’t conform to this conduct. We will not respond to every post, but will do our best to answer specific questions, or address an error.