Local historian organising event on American slavery and its links to North Shields

David Young will present ‘This Guilty Land – Stories from American Slavery’ on Saturday 11 January from 11am to 12 noon at the Old Low Light Heritage Centre.

Part of a programme of events supporting the Breaking Chains exhibition at the heritage centre, it will be in four parts, each telling a different aspect of the American slavery story.

The event will start with a first-hand account by a former slave, including why for some the 13th Amendment failed to protect their rights as newly freed people.

There will then be a short play based on the chance encounter between Mary Ann Macham, an escaped enslaved woman, and a local man on the morning of her arrival in North Shields from America.

Next, it will look at the battle of Fort Wagner during the American Civil War, including who was involved and connections to North Shields.

Finally, it will cover Abraham Lincoln’s Second Inaugural address, what it was about and consideration of what part it played in his eventual assassination.

David Young, a trustee and volunteer at the Old Low Light Heritage Centre, said: “During our research for the Breaking Chains exhibition and the story of the escaped enslaved woman Mary Ann Macham, we have been fascinated by findings about this important period in American history. We look forward to sharing more of these stories and their relevance to our own local area.”

Admission for the event is £3 (free to Old Low Light members).

Breaking Chains, which opened at the Old Low Light Heritage Centre in early October last year, is about Mary Ann Macham who escaped from a plantation in Virginia and stowed away on a ship bound for the Netherlands. From there she sailed to Grimsby and then made her way by road to North Shields, arriving on Christmas Day in 1831, when she was met by members of the Spence family who were Quakers and local business people. She married a local man and remained friends with the Spence family until her death in 1893, when she was buried in Preston Cemetery. The exhibition also sets out the role prominent people in North Shields played in the abolition movement.

Sign up to our newsletter and Stay up to date with the latest news from the old low light.

To receive regular updates about the events and activities at the Old Low Light, please fill in your email address below.