Enslaved Virginians sought freedom from the time they were first brought to the Jamestown colony in 1619. Acts of self-emancipation were aided by Virginia's waterways, which became part of the network of the Underground Railroad in the years before the Civil War. Watermen willing to help escaped slaves made eighteenth-century Norfolk a haven for freedom seekers. Famous nineteenth-century escapees like Shadrack Minkins and Henry "Box" Brown were aided by the Underground Railroad. Enslaved men like Henry Lewey, known as Bluebeard, aided freedom seekers as conductors, and black and white sympathizers acted as station masters. Historian Cassandra Newby-Alexander narrates the ways that enslaved people used Virginia's waterways to achieve humanity's dream of freedom.
About the Author
Cassandra Newby-Alexander currently serves as a professor of history and the director of the Joseph Jenkins Roberts Center for the African Diaspora at Norfolk State University. She has spearheaded the 1619 Making of America conference, which seeks to transform the narrative about the role of early Africans in the evolution of America. Her books include An African American History of the Civil War in Hampton Roads and Hampton Roads: Remembering Our Schools and Voices from within the Veil: African Americans and the Experience of Democracy.
Table of Contents
1 Background of Slavery and Flight in Colonial Virginia 17
2 Origins of Abolitionism and the Emerging Underground Railroad in Virginia 35
3 Slavery, Politics and the Underground Railroad in Antebellum Virginia 52
4 Freedom Seekers, Conductors, Safe Spaces 94
5 From Virginia to the North and Virginia to Canada 120
6 Freedom Seekers and the Civil War 145
7 Legacies of the Underground Railroad 158
About the Author 191