Charlottesville Confederate Statue Defender Sues Paper, Prof, for Reporting His Family's Slaveholding History - 2019-09-14
Edward Dickinson Tayloe II is is the descendant of a "First Family of Virginia," a euphemistic way of saying white, rich, socially prominent before the American Revolution and—through the Civil War—slaveholding.
The Tayloes' legacy as one of the largest slaveowning families in the state is well-documented. Amidst nearly 30,000 historical papers donated to the Virginia Historical Society by the family itself are plantation ledgers detailing the expansion of the Tayloes' enslaved work force over the 19th century, an evidentiary accounting of how the exploitation of free black labor allowed the family to amass wealth, land, and political power.
Facts about the Tayloe family's slaveholding past—including the regularity with which it engaged in the heartless practice of splitting up enslaved families—appeared in a brief profile of Edward Tayloe published this March by the Charlottesville, Va., newspaper C-Ville Weekly. In response, Tayloe employed a strategy once frequently used by those of means to silence critics that's seen a resurgence in recent years: He filed a lawsuit alleging defamation and demanding a fortune in damages.