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Tour of the 13th Amendment Ending Slavery Visits Vance Birthplace June 12

Celebrate Juneteenth with us!








A handful of documents changed the character of the United States. The 13th Amendment, which formally ended legal slavery in this country, is one of them. It will be exhibited at the Gov. Zebulon B. Vance Birthplace on June 12 from 11 a.m. - 7 p.m.

As part of the observance of the 150th anniversary of the Civil War and in recognition of Juneteenth (June 19) which is the date many African-Americans observe as when the last of the enslaved in 1865 learned they were free, there will be a tour of North Carolina’s copy of the 13th Amendment.

The U.S. Congress passed the 13th Amendment on Jan. 31, 1865 and ratified it on Dec. 6, 1865. Since then, North Carolina’s copy of the document has been stored in a climate controlled vault in the State Archives. This will be the first time the document has traveled outside of Raleigh.

The Gov. Zebulon Vance Birthplace is the furthest west this document will travel on its statewide tour of 12 historic sites and museums. The Vance’s were among some of the largest slaveholders in Buncombe County in the early years of the 19th century. Records for 1811 alone reveal that 18 enslaved African’s labored on this farmstead serving as livestock herdsmen, agricultural laborers, domestic servants, and mill operators. Additionally, several of the slaves were likely skilled artisans and craftsmen who produced goods which helped to increase the prosperity of the Vance family. 

"As we approach the 150th anniversary of the creation of this important, nation-changing document, the North Carolina Department of Cultural Resources feels it is only appropriate to carry it from Raleigh to exhibit in appropriate symbolic locations,” Cultural Resources Secretary Susan Kluttz explained. “I think it especially important that we are showcasing this freedom document in slave cabins at three of the historic sites."

Original slave cabins stand at Vance Birthplace in Weaverville. In addition to the exhibition of the 13th amendment, items from the Museum of History’s collection related to slavery in North Carolina will be on display. Guest lecturers and performances relating the enormous impact this document had on the lives of enslaved Americans will also be included as part of the day’s programming.

Juneteenth 13th Amendment Tour at Vance Birthplace:

  • June 12 Vance Birthplace, Weaverville     11 am - 7 pm

Special performances and speakers will include:

  • 1 pm:  Actress Becky Stone will present a dramatic living history performance of Sarah Gudger – an enslaved woman who was once owned by the Vance family. The performance will be based on the Depression era WPA slave narrative recording of Sarah Gudger in the 1930’s.
  • 2 pm:  St. John A. Baptist choir of South Asheville will perform old time African-American spirituals.
  • 4 pm:  Dr. Stephen Nash, professor of History at East Tennessee State University, will present a lecture on “Slavery and Reconstruction in Western North Carolina.” The lecture details his doctorate and post-doctorate research which will soon be published in a book of the same title.
  • 5 pm:  Dr. Jeff Keith and Dr. Ellen Pearson will present a lecture and power point presentation on their work to restore and identify the graves of many of Asheville’s African-American and enslaved population interred at the South Asheville Cemetery.
  • 6 pm:  The children’s librarian from Weaverville Library will present a storytelling program focused on the African-American stories of the Uncle Remus Tales and Anansi the Spider.

Additionally, exhibits and informational tables will be distributed around the grounds during the course of the day featuring topics such as:

  • The Mars Hill, NC “Rosenwald School” presented by the Rural Life Museum at Mars Hill University. The Rosenwald School was one of thousands built in the early 20th century and funded by philanthropist Julian Rosenwald to serve African-American communities across the country.
  • The Center for Diversity Education at UNC-A
  • Western North Carolina Archives
  • The Liston Ramsey Center for Regional Studies at Mars Hill University
  • YWCA’s “Stand Against Racism”
  • and more

For additional information, call (828) 645-6706. The traveling exhibit is a collaboration among the State Archives, Division of State Historic Sites, Museum of History, and the N.C. African American Heritage Commission.

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