The author and her son, Evan // © 2016 Janna Lopez
Feature image (above): American’s dark past is on display. // © 2016 Janna Lopez
A recent trip to Nashville, Tenn., with my 12-year-old son, Evan, became a learning treasure trove about a complex chapter in U.S. history: the Civil War and slavery. Though Nashville has many hot spots, a must-see is former President Andrew Jackson’s Hermitage.
USA Today ranked this plantation and museum as the nation’s third Best Presidential Attraction. Set on an idyllic 1,100 acres, Evan was in awe as we toured the frozen-in-time, mid-1800s Greek Revival mansion. Adjacent to the mansion is a lovely 1-acre English garden with heirloom roses, irises, peonies and flowering shrubs.
We gleaned historical revelations from the horse-drawn carriage tour, which included seeing former slave quarters. A guide shared examples of how Jackson obtained his wealth from the labor of the 150 slaves he owned.
Though the stories were heartbreaking, Evan had thoughtful questions.
I welcomed engagement of his impressionable mind through a timely dialogue about the convergence of past and present prejudice, as well as the ever-increasing importance of human compassion.