As NY1 gears up for a week-long look at Black History Month, New Yorkers are learning more about the colonial period in America thanks to the discovery of an infamous plantation. NY1's Cheryl Wills filed the following report.
The images are haunting. Descendants of slaves peering into what's left of a Maryland plantation that historians say have sent shock waves across the country.
"I think when people read about L'Hermitage and they see the real devastation emotionally and especially physically. It is an eye opening experience," said Essence Magazine Senior Editor Patrik Henry Bass.
The Love and Legacy February issue of Essence Magazine profiles what's known as the L'Hermitage plantation in Frederick County -- some of which is still standing. Conditions were so brutal for the 90 slaves who lived there that the state of Maryland brought charges against its French masters in the late 1700s. Most of the charges were dismissed, but slave owners were found guilty of starving and beating some slaves.
Essence Magazine even helped track down some of the descendants of Africans who lived there hundreds of years ago and arranged for them to visit the excavated site.
"To not only see the history, to live and breathe it, but to touch it is such a rare experience that not only have African Americans not experienced it, but most Americans haven't experienced it," Henry said.
Archaeologists also unearthed artifacts that bear witness to an oppressed community. L'Hermitage was sold in 1827 and the land is the now the property of the National Parks Service.
Government officials say the plantation is an historic find that sheds light on a dark period in American history.