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Henry Darnal III
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gstecyk's picture

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This painting shows a red-blooded boy engaged in America’s favorite pastime: The subjugation of entire races!

Ahem…we mean, “hunting”…yes, that’s it, “hunting.”  The boy in question is young Henry Darnall III, son of a wealthy Maryland planter. Before the inevitable white trash John Waters association, Maryland was strictly old Southern money…much more Gone With The Wind than Hairspray.  White children on colonial plantations grew up in isolation among an enslaved African majority, sometimes miles away from the nearest children of their own race and social status. 

To mitigate the effects of loneliness, their parents appointed black children to be their personal playmates. White and black, growing up together as brothers?  Martin Luther King Jr.’s dream in action?  Not quite.  Notice the metal collar restraining the black child’s neck.  Interestingly, this is the earliest known formal painting of an enslaved African in America.

The scales of justice eventually tipped the other way for Henry Darnall III, the little tyrant-dandy in training.  His father was a Catholic who was stripped of his titles after the Protestant revolution of 1689 (he managed to keep his enormously wealthy estate, however).  Henry III remained a closet Catholic, practicing his religion in secret.  He also not-so-secretly embezzled an exorbitant sum of money using his position as a Naval Officer.  The ancestral plantation was sold to pay off his debts, and Henry escaped to Europe to avoid an embarrassing public trial.  Thank you Karma!

But we think you could’ve done worse, considering the unhappy ending for the unnamed black child. If he survived to adulthood, he was likely also sold to pay for his “friend’s” corruption.