After President Abraham Lincoln -- who had openly expressed opposition to slavery -- won the presidency in 1860, a power struggle ensued.
Whether the threat was real or perceived, Southerners who thought they had to protect their livelihoods overreacted, said interpreter John Failor.
Slaves and slave owners were jockeying for different goals. Slave owners wanted to dispel a threat to their way of life, while slaves wanted to explore the possibilities of freedom.
The clash led to a turmoil that will be on display at Historic Brattonsville from 10 a.m. to 4 p.m. Saturday. An attempted slave revolt in 1860 in McConnells will be interpreted in a program called "White Fear, Black Hope."
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Failor said the reenactment of such a matter makes for serious conversation. "During the slave revolts, these vigilantes and patriots felt that they had to protect their homes and lives."
He described the subject as a "very heavy" one. "It gives us the opportunity to get people's thoughts, opinions and feelings abut these very real events."
The story of the 1860 revolt will be told through three scenes, which are entitled "The Bathesda Vigilante Association," "Standing Alone" and "Shootout." The scenes will run at noon and 2 p.m. Each scene is five to six minutes long.
The show begins with the formation of a vigilante group in reaction to an attempted slave revolt. Dave, a slave, was caught trying to run away from the Bratton plantation.
To protect himself, Dave offered to tell the Brattons about the Pew family -- nearby residents who sold the slaves whisky and helped plan a slave revolt.
Failor said the scene title "Standing Alone" fits because of the predicament Dave was in.
"That title really works because the young man, Dave, was caught between getting in trouble or protecting himself and getting the Pew family caught," he said.
His decision to give up the Pews leads to a standoff between the family and their slave-owning neighbors, who now saw them as abolitionists who were trying to uproot their way of life.
"The idea was to tell a story that is local, but also tells what happened across the South just before the Civil War," Failor said. "These events happened everywhere."
Want to go?
What: "Black Hope, White Fear"
When: 10 a.m. to 4 p.m. Saturday
Where: Historic Brattonsville, Brattonsville Road, McConnells
Cost: Cost: $10 adults, $8 seniors, $5 youths aged 4 to 17, and free for children 3 and younger. CHM members receive a $2 discount.
Details: Call (803) 329-2121 or visit www.chmuseums.org.