Frances Anne “Fanny” Kemble was born in London in 1809 in a family of actors, and she became an established actress herself.
In Philadelphia in 1832 she met and eventually married Pierce Butler, a Georgia plantation owner with hundreds of slaves and the grandson and namesake of the signer of the U.S. Constitution.
Kemble opposed slavery and said so, much to her husband’s distress. He thought a trip south would change her mind.
Their move to Georgia in 1838 only deepened her feelings. She kept a journal of the 16 months she lived on the Butler plantations and eventually published it during the Civil War, after she and Butler had divorced. The book caused a sensation, with graphic descriptions of the horrors of slavery.
Disagreement over slavery eventually ended the Butler marriage, just as it dissolved the Union.
The woman whose stay on a Georgia plantation produced one of the most powerful works of abolition ever published was born on November 27, 1809, Today in Georgia History.
Kemble's daughter, Leigh, wrote her own account of life on a Georgia plantation a refutation of her mother's claims.