Today in History:

A Great Unknown American Hero- Robert Carter III

User Rating: 0 / 5

Star InactiveStar InactiveStar InactiveStar InactiveStar Inactive
A Great Unknown American Hero

New Book Inspired by Plantation Owner who Freed over 500 Slaves


Manassas Park, Va. If author Larry Buttram has his wish come true, everyone in the country will now recognize and praise the name of Robert Carter III. 


“He freed more slaves than anyone in American history,” says Mr. Buttram, author of a new book inspired by his life titled, The Curtain Torn.


Robert Carter III was the grandson of Robert “King” Carter, the first millionaire in the country (at that time, the Colonies) and the largest slave owner in the nation. King Carter, of Lancaster, Virginia, owned 300,000 acres of land spread across dozens of plantations and farms. He also owned a shipping company to transport his goods to market in Europe and bring slaves back from Africa to work on his plantations. When he died he had in his position the equivalent of $500,000 in cash.


Robert Carter III was as sensitive as his grandfather was driven. Losing both his father and his grandfather at the age of four perhaps gave him an early appreciation of human life. For whatever reason, he was a kind-hearted and caring man who, throughout his life, struggled with the idea of owning other human beings. When he came of age and took over his father’s empire, he implemented changes that assured his slaves would be treated more humanely. He all but forbid the use of the whip as punishment and frequently sided with the slaves in disputes with overseers or neighbors.


It was not until he almost died, however, that he felt compelled to free his slaves. Stricken with fever and near death for days, he later stated that he had actually seen Jesus, who made it clear to him how evil slavery was. Overwhelmed with remorse, he eventually freed
his slaves, over 500 in total.


This action brought much heartache and anguish when many of his friends and even family turned against him. He moved to Baltimore where he gave money to the city to build city hall. He died while his slaves were being freed.


Larry Buttram said:


“Robert Carter III remained true to his word and freed more slaves than anyone in American history.”


“While I’ve had to rearrange and simplify a few incidents in Mr. Carter’s Life, the main points remain unchanged. He was truly a great and unique man. While many of the country’s leaders at the time—George Washington, Thomas Jefferson, Richard Henry Lee, and George Mason—talked about the evils of slavery, they did nothing to change it. Mr. Carter gave up his way of life for his beliefs.”


When asked how he came up with the idea of writing the book, he stated, “It came about from a discussion my wife and I had regarding slavery. I said that I found it hard to believe that at least one plantation owner was not troubled enough about slavery to take action. She said that it was the mind-set shared by all owners, and that none felt enough guilt to change it. After our conversation I began my quest to find one slave owner who freed his slaves. It took almost two months, but eventually I was lead to the story of Mr. Carter.  While I was not surprised that an owner actually freed his slaves, I was astounded that it was on such a grand scale, and that the action was taken by one of the richest men in the country. He was truly an amazing man and should be mentioned in all of our history books.”

 Note- Image used with permission from the Virginia Historical Society.

Please login to post a comment. You may create an account using the form available to the right.


Major Battles of the Civil War