Horse-mounting Honesty

Some visitors to Charleston are being told that the stone blocks they often see on historic sidewalks were for selling slaves. This is absolutely not true. These are mounting blocks, which equestrians have used for centuries to get astride a high horse. They were also known as “upping stones” and the Charleston newspapers throughout the 1700’s and 1800’s feature advertisements by stone cutters such as Robert Givan, who made his from sandstone, which is easily shaped. All of the pictures below are historic mounting blocks found in Northern cities, including one in front of a church, so the slave sale narrative is easily contradicted. Riders still use stone blocks to mount, so the blocks can still serve a purpose. Real slave sales long ago typically involved a higher platform made of wood, and although there are images of them in places such as the Old Slave Mart Museum on Chalmers Street, I doubt that any still exist.

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