Author: Larry Buttram
ISBN: 978-0-0755050-1-0
Publisher: New Virginia Publications


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Here’s a little known fact: Robert Carter III of Nomini Hall Plantation on the Northern Neck of Virginia, freed more slaves than any individual in American History.

With this story as an inspiration, Larry Buttram’s The Curtain Torn brings to life the amazing story of how one man’s resolution and sensitivity made a difference in the lives of several hundred downtrodden slaves.

To craft this fascinating and poignant tale, Buttram expertly weaves place and time so that we believe that every detail of the landscape is real. It should be noted that Robert Carter III lived from 1727 to 1804. However, as the author mentions in his introduction, the time frame of The Curtain Torn was moved sixty years and nearer the time of the Civil War, which was a time period more focused on slavery and individual rights. Buttram informs us that he believes that one of the principal reasons Robert Carter III’s story has been forgotten is because it was during the time of the Revolutionary War when most people were preoccupied with their struggle for independence and a new country.

As our tale unfolds, we learn that Robert Carter III was the grandson of one of the richest and most powerful men in the country, Robert (King) Carter. When Robert Carter III was four years old he lost both his grandfather and father. As a result, a large portion of their empires were left to him and until he attained the age of twenty-one, the estate was administered and managed by his uncles Charles and Landon.

At a very early age, Carter III began to show great compassion for his slaves and apparently while falling ill, after been inoculated for small pox, he experienced an epiphany. It was this revelation that led to a remarkable turning point in his life that had a profound influence on his future actions pertaining to the hundreds of slaves he owned.

As a result and after some research, Carter III decided to use a little known provision in the Code of Virginia where it was stipulated: “It is lawful for any person, by last will or other instrument in writing, seal, and witnessed, to emancipate his slave.”

Unquestionably what Carter III proposed was not exactly well received by many of his fellow slave owners.  When a hearing was held to decide if he could in fact exercise his rights to emancipate his slaves, his opponents argued the following: the economic hardship that it would bring to their owners, that slaves were not capable of surviving on their own, that the African is a few hundred years behind the rest of the world and won’t be able to fit in with the white society and that the bible condones slavery.  However, Carter with a few of his supporters potently destroyed all of these contentions illustrating why it is immoral to deny any human being equality.

Buttram, who has previously authored three mystery novels and a book of short stories, skilfully laces fact with fiction into a compelling tale of one man’s fight against tremendous odds.  The power of The Curtain Torn lies in its unflinching and honest portrait of life during the time of slavery in America. It is not only the story about one person but the evocation of an era that should never be forgotten.

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