Robert Carter III of Nomini Hall Plantation on the Northern Neck of Virginia was the grandson
of Robert (King) Carter, one of the richest men in the country. When he was four years old, he
lost both his father and grandfather and inherited their empire. He became the largest slave
owner in the country (the Colonies).
At an early age he showed compassion for his slaves, struggling with the idea of owning a
human being. It was only when he almost lost his life from smallpox, and after a vision of Jesus
proclaiming against slavery, that he decided to free his slaves. There was a provision in the
Code of Virginia which stipulated that "it is lawful for any person by last will or other
instrument in writing sealed and witnessed to emancipate his slaves."
What he proposed was not well received by many of his fellow slave owners. There was a hearing
held to decide if he could exercise the right to free the slaves. That decision led to Carter
becoming the man who freed more slaves than anyone in American history.
This is a tale of one man's fight against tremendous odds. It presents a poignant picture of
a period of U.S. history that should never be forgotten. It illustrates how one man's resolution
and sensitivity affected the lives of several hundred slaves, and the lives of those close to him.
It is a fascinating story and one unfortunately never told before.