Image Thornhill plantation house, 2010

TLF ID M008740

This is the two-storey Thornhill plantation house in Greene County, Alabama, showing the southern facade with its two-story portico of six Ionic columns across the front, and the eastern-side elevation. The photograph was taken by Carol Highsmith.

Educational details

Educational value
  • This photograph is an interesting source for the year 9 history depth study elective, Movement of peoples (1750-1901), which involves a study of the influence of the industrial revolution on the movement of peoples throughout the world, including the transatlantic slave trade. The house seen here was the centre of a great cotton plantation of more than 1,000 ha worked by more than 156 slaves in 1860.
  • Thornhill is representative of the establishment of 'King Cotton' in the Deep South following the development of an efficient cotton gin in the 1790s. Both slave and free populations moved from worn-out tobacco areas further north to establish cotton plantations on the Alabama frontier. James Innes Thornton, who developed Thornhill, moved from Virginia to practise law. In 1834 he became a full-time cotton planter on land he had pre-empted (squatted) or bought.
  • The Alabama plantations were totally dependent on cheap labour and this was true not only of the cultivation of cotton but also of the construction of plantation 'great houses' such as this one. Thornhill was built by slaves using well-seasoned lumber they had cut, sawed and hewn by hand. It was completed by 1833. The two-story portico was added around 1850.
Learning area
  • History
  • Studies of society and environment

Other details

  • Author
  • Person: Carol M Highsmith
  • Description: author
  • Contributor
  • Name: The Library of Congress
  • Organization: The Library of Congress
  • Description: content provider
  • Address: UNITED STATES
  • URL:
  • Person: Carol M Highsmith
  • Description: author
  • Publisher
  • Name: Education Services Australia Ltd
  • Organization: Education Services Australia Ltd
  • Description: Publisher
  • Address: VIC, AUSTRALIA
  • URL:
  • Resource metadata contributed by
  • Name: Education Services Australia Ltd
  • Organisation: Education Services Australia Ltd
  • Address: AUSTRALIA
  • URL:
Access profile
  • Generic
Learning Resource Type
  • Image
  • © Commonwealth of Australia, 2011, except where indicated otherwise. You may copy, communicate and modify this material for non-commercial educational purposes provided you retain all acknowledgements associated with the material.