Link to Legacies Home Page Link to National Museum of American History About Legacies Tour the Exhibit Most Intriguing Objects Most Popular Objects Take the Collector Quiz A Treasure House A Shrine to the Famous A Palace of Progress A Mirror of America From Artifacts to America Exhibit Search Buy the Book Smithsonian Press--Legacies--4Mirror of America--Jar made by David Drake, a slave artisan, 1862

Legacies: Collecting America's History at the Smithsonian, by Steven Lubar and Kathleen M. Kendrick
You are here: Mirror of America > A Nation of Nations

Jar made by David Drake, a slave artisan, 1862Jar made by David Drake, a slave artisan, 1862

The poem inscribed on this glazed stoneware reads "I made this jar all of cross / If you don't repent, you will be lost" and is signed "Dave." David Drake worked at the pottery operated by his owner, Lewis Miles, at Stoney Bluff Plantation in Edgefield, South Carolina, from the 1830s to the 1860s. He is the only slave potter known to sign and date his work, defiantly proclaiming his education in a state that outlawed literacy among slaves. In 1996 the Smithsonian purchased two of Dave's "poem jars," highly valued as artistic works and material evidence of the skills, beliefs, and daily lives of enslaved African Americans.

See also: African American History, Ceramics

Return to the Legacies Home Page

Privacy  |  Terms of Use