Tea Table

“Big Tom” Burton (dates unknown)

Long Neck, Sussex County, Delaware, 1860s–1900

Walnut, swamp root

Museum purchase; 2009.4

According to family tradition, “Big Tom” Burton was an African American sharecropper who worked on the Burton Plantation in southern Sussex County, Delaware. Until the Emancipation Proclamation, the plantation’s owner, Benjamin Burton (dates unknown), was the largest slaveholder in the state. This table, very likely a marriage between an eighteenth-century walnut tabletop and a swamp-root base, is an extremely rare example of a documented piece of furniture created by an African American in Delaware.