Nine Boats on the Savannah River
Savannah is a busy port city and has been since the middle of the eighteenth century. In those early colonial days, soon after founder James Oglethorpe left the colony and returned to England in 1743, Savannah began replicating the British West Indian plantation culture. It began by lifting Oglethorpe’s ban on slavery and thereby enabling the development of large slave-labored plantations, with many located along the Savannah River and other nearby rivers accessible to the Atlantic Ocean. With the adoption of slavery, Savannah quickly flourished as a port city; prominent merchants could operate in multiple markets and readily trade goods (and slaves) across the Atlantic, along the American coast and throughout the Caribbean. Eli Whitney soon after developed the plans for his cotton gin on a nearby Savannah River plantation. The forced labor provided by African Slaves together with Whitney’s invention immediately transformed the production of cotton into an enormously profitable commodity for trade; and Savannah thereby became a major thoroughfare for King Cotton.
Enjoy a long walk along Savannah’s River Street and you can’t help but observe the many boats rapidly coming and going through its busy port. In this vibrant painting, Luba captures nine boats operating simultaneously on the Savannah River. Talmadge Bridge can be seen in the background. Undoubtedly, Savannah is a successful modern port city today; but never forget that the adoption of slavery against the wishes of its founder was the key factor in its early mercantile success and its ongoing progression. Throughout its history, artists in Savannah have performed the important civic role of recording ‘living memories’ to the altering landscape of this prominent port city. Nine Boats on the Savannah River continues Luba’s exquisite contribution to this important historical and artistic mission.