Fireback

Fireback AERA Furnace York County, South Carolina 1778 Cast iron HOA: 24”; WOA: 23” Sprague Foundation Purchase Fund (3119)

Fireback
AERA Furnace
York County, South Carolina
1778
Cast iron
HOA: 24”; WOA: 23”
Sprague Foundation Purchase Fund (3119)

In 1779, as the British prepared to set sail for Charleston, South Carolina, the AERA Furnace in York County, South Carolina advertised its need of one hundred enslaved craftsmen.  The furnace’s owners promised that “no situation in the State is more healthy and secure from an enemy.” At the furnace the newly arrived laborers were put to work making munitions for the American cause and household goods like this patriotic fireback emblazoned “Liberty or Death” – a profoundly ironic sentiment to any enslaved person aware of Lord Dunmore’s promise to free any slave who made it across British lines and took up arms in the British cause.   Despite their assurances to slave owners that no location in the state was safer, the ironworks were destroyed by British troops in 1780.