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The Last Laird of Sapelo

By T. M. Brown


The Last Laird of Sapelo is based on the tragic story of Randolph Spalding, the youngest son of
Georgia’s most well-known antebellum-era coastal planter and influential political figure, Thomas Spalding. Following his father’s death in 1851, Randolph parlays his father’s fame and gifted
landholdings on Sapelo Island, hobnobbing from Charleston to Savannah to Milledgeville and
ultimately failing to thwart Georgia’s decision to follow South Carolina into secession by early 1861.
Within weeks after the assault on Fort Sumter, Lincoln’s naval blockade threatens the entire southern coast. Colonel Randolph Spalding, now a reluctant commander of militia, faces a storm of life-altering events in the months that follow, imperiling his family’s legacy, livelihood, and lands. He ultimately must decide between supposed justice and saving the life of a slave who exacted revenge for the murder and rape of two children on Sapelo Island.

Book Takeaway:

Recognize the causes of the War Between the States were far more complex than our modern understanding.

Discover not all plantation owners fit the stereotype of cruel and heartless masters, and many maintained northern financial and trade connections.

Portray Randolph Spalding facing one last cotton harvest before sending his family and slaves far inland while serving as regimental commander of militia sent to defend Sapelo Island.

Reflect how plantation owners and politicians in Georgia responded to protect their lands, lifestyles, and legacies up and down the Southern coastal region.

Address Robert E. Lee’s early role in command of defending the South Carolina, Georgia and Florida coast from the approaching Union fleet sent to blockade southern ports.

Spotlight the history of Georgia’s barrier islands and historic port towns; in particular, Sapelo Island, Darien, and Savannah.

Affirm secession did not come with universal approval, nor did the many in the South want nor expect a war.

Stir new interest in understanding the real and complex history behind our country’s darkest days that still impact race relations today.

Why the author wrote this book:

To bring to light the Spalding family legacy on Sapelo Island and in McIntosh County, GA, as well as the Geechee enslaved workers and their present day descendants.


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