The Little Boy Who Should’ve Vanished, but Didn’t
He was 12 years old. He was a slave. He’d had no schooling. He was too young, too unlettered, too un-European; he couldn’t have done this on his own. That’s what people said.
Edmond (he had no last name—slaves weren’t allowed them) had just solved a botanical mystery that had stumped the greatest botanists of his day. In the early 1800s he was a child on a remote island in the Indian Ocean, and yet, against overwhelming odds, Edmond would get credit for his discovery—and for the most surprising reasons. I want to tell you his story. So I’ll start here, with a plant.
This is a vanilla plant (or my version of one). It’s a vine. It climbs, sometimes way high, and when it flowers and is visited by a pollinator, it produces a bunch of lo… Continue Reading