"Blind Tom" Wiggins performs for first time before a large public audience

In October 1857, General Bethune rented a concert hall in Columbus and for the first time "Blind Tom" performed before a large audience that had difficulty comprehending how a blind idiotic slave child could master the piano keyboard.

There are conflicting historical accounts of Blind Tom's first public performance, some indicating he was as young as three. One account from 1857 indicates that he had been performing publicly for several years.

Following his first public concert at Columbus' Temperance Hall on October 7, 1857, Tom was taken to Atlanta, Macon, and Athens, where the editor of Athens Southern Watchman described his performance at the University of Georgia as the "most remarkable ever witnessed in Athens, one that would put to blush many a professor of music."