Contact: Andi Martin, Marketing and Public Relations Manager  

andi.martin@ahc.alabama.gov, 334-230-2680

January 29, 2020

  Old Cahawba Hosts “Road to Freedom” Wagon Tour


(Montgomery, AL) On Saturday, February 1 from 10:00am – 11:00 am, Old Cahawba Archaeological Park, a historic property of the Alabama Historical Commission,” will host the Road to Freedom Wagon Tour.


Lest we forget, one hundred years before the 1965 Voting Rights March focused on the Dallas County courthouse in nearby Selma, AL a brave community of recently emancipated African-Americans gathered around an older courthouse in Cahawba. These 19th century citizens exercised their right to vote and –for a brief time – gained political power.


The Road to Freedom Wagon Tour tells the story of Cahawba’s African-American majority and traces their path from slavery to freedom with a special emphasis on how they reshaped Cahawba as they pursued their dreams of equality.


 “Of all the tours we do, this is perhaps my favorite because it makes me think about the meaning of freedom,” said Linda Derry, Site Director at Old Cahawba Archaeological Park. “I like to start this tour by asking participants to consider what they would do if suddenly, one day, for the first time, they were told they were free. Then, as we tour historic locations throughout the park, we discover the first freedoms that Cahawba’s newly emancipated people sought. This look at the struggle for freedom from the inside out can be a humbling experience.”


By 1860, approximately 64% of Cahawba’s population was African-American. After Emancipation, the formerly enslaved laborers were able to engage in commerce for themselves with their highly-skilled craftsmanship, becoming bricklayers, carpenters, blacksmiths, plasterers and landowners. 


Many of those same citizens played prominent roles fighting for hard-won political freedoms. Jeremiah Haralson (born 1846) was self-educated and the only African-American to serve in the Alabama House, Alabama Senate, and the U.S. House of Representatives. Jordan Hatcher, Cahawba’s postmaster, was appointed to the Constitutional Convention. Tom Walker was one of Alabama’s first state legislators and became a highly successful lawyer in the District of Columbia, as well as a trustee of Howard University. Sara J. Hatcher Duncan is regarded as the Pinnacle of Women’s Power in the A.M.E Church and was born in Cahawba shortly after Emancipation.


The timing of this special event is quite poignant, certainly for Black History Month, but perhaps more importantly as the nation observes the sesquicentennial of the 15th Amendment— the third and final amendment to the U.S. Constitution during the Reconstruction Era that was adopted to protect the freedoms outlined in the 13th and 14th Amendments.


“The right of citizens of the United States to vote shall not be denied or abridged by the United States or by any State on account of race, color, or previous condition of servitude.” (U.S. Constitution. Amendment XV, Section 1. 1870.)


The 150th anniversary of the ratification of the 15th Amendment is February 3, 2020.


 Hear more about how these voting rights and the pursuit of freedom shaped Cahawba. The Road to Freedom Wagon Tour participants will meet at the visitor’s center, rain or shine. Tickets are $8 for children and $10 for adults and available at the Old Cahawba Visitors Center.


Old Cahawba lies at the confluence of the Alabama and Cahaba Rivers, and from 1819 to 1826 it served as Alabama’s first capital. From downtown Selma, take Highway 22 (Dallas Avenue) west 8.6 miles. Cross over the Cahaba River and turn left onto County Road 9 and follow this 3.3 miles until it dead ends. Turn left onto County Road 2 and follow this 1.5 miles until you see the Visitor Center on the right. Visitor Center Address: 9518 Cahaba Road, Orrville, AL 36767.

Old Cahawba is a historic property of the Alabama Historical Commission. To learn more about Old Cahawba, or the Alabama Historical Commission, please visit www.ahc.alabama.gov.


About Old Cahawba

Old Cahawba lies at the confluence of the Alabama and Cahaba Rivers, and from 1819 to 1826 it served as Alabama’s first capital. Today, the Alabama Historical Commission owns and operates this significant archaeological site.


About the Alabama Historical Commission

Located in historic downtown Montgomery at 468 S. Perry Street, the Alabama Historical Commission is the state historic preservation agency for Alabama. The agency was created by an act of the state legislature in 1966 with a mission to protect, preserve and interpret Alabama’s historic places. AHC works to accomplish its mission through two fields of endeavor: Preservation and promotion of state-owned historic sites as public attractions; and, statewide programs to assist people, groups, towns, and cities with local preservation activities. For a complete list of programs and properties owned and operated by the AHC, hours of operation, and admission fees please visit ahc.alabama.gov  


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