Capitol Hill Restoration Society

Race, Slavery, Diamonds, and Education: The Silas Omohundro Family of Richmond, Virginia

Posted on November 4th, 2015

All are invited to an evening lecture at Congressional Cemetery on Thursday, November 12, 2015 at 7 pm. Historian and guest lecturer Emmanuel Dabney will deliver his lecture “Race, Slavery, Diamonds, and Education,” which discusses the Omohundro family of Richmond, Virginia. A member of this family, Corinna, is buried in Congressional Cemetery (see below for full description of lecture). The lecture will begin at 7 pm and will be followed by a wine and cheese reception; $5 suggested donation. Please RSVP to if interested in attending.

“This lecture examines the lives of Silas Omohundro, a white slave trader in antebellum and Civil War Richmond and his enslaved wife, Corinna and their family from 1850-1877. The Omohundros were an elite slaveowning-enslaved family, a wealthy family where one member is the slaveowner and the other members are enslaved. Ironically, despite their status as slaves, Corinna, her mother, and the Omohundro children joined Silas to benefit from slavery in order to create and maintain their identity making the entire family—slave dependent. Silas died before the Civil War and slavery ended, and though Corinna and her children entered the postwar era with property and education; they still lived in a liminal zone between white and black. By examining account books, census data, a will, and other primary sources, this study challenges our understanding of who benefitted from Richmond’s slave trade while tens of thousands suffered, reveals the complexity of biracial people even as they embraced elite, white Southern social customs, and the means in which these elements combined to create unique experiences for nearly-white African Americans who reshaped themselves through the separate, yet connected worlds of love, a slave jail and the domestic sphere.”

Full details can be found here:

Lauren Maloy, Program Director

Historic Congressional Cemetery