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One of the most overlooked legacies of enslaved labor are the bricks that cover the Academical Village. Enslaved laborers dug the clay, helped fire the bricks, hauled them to Grounds, and laid them to build this university. The brick making began in the summer of 1817, and the enslaved laborers working on this task were a diverse group of mostly men, but included at least one woman and several children. An enslaved man named Charles was responsible for digging the clay and manning the kiln with the help of six enslaved boys rented out from John H. Cocke in 1823. Enslaved laborers named Dick, Lewis, Nelson and Sandy were also assigned to the brickyard, and worked long hours by the kiln. Enslaved laborers also carved out the terrace levels on the lawn, creating the unique landscape that you see today. Many of the enslaved laborers were highly skilled at construction, carpentry, stone cutting, and blacksmithing, who were forced to work alongside free black and white laborers, contributed to some of the more intricate design work seen in the details of the architecture on grounds. In 1823 as part of Rotunda construction, free man of color Robert Battles hauled over 176,000 bricks and a few tons of sand to the University during a five-month stretch. For his Herculean efforts, he was paid $170.
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