Israel on the Appomattox: A Southern Experiment in Black Freedom from the 1790s Through the Civil War
Melvin Patrick Ely
WINNER OF THE BANCROFT PRIZEA New York Times Book Review and Atlantic Monthly Editors' ChoiceThomas Jefferson denied that whites and freed blacks could live together in harmony. His cousin, Richard Randolph, not only disagreed, but made it possible for ninety African Americans to prove Jefferson wrong. Israel on the Appomattox tells the story of these liberated blacks and the community they formed, called Israel Hill, in Prince Edward County, Virginia. There, ex-slaves established farms, navigated the Appomattox River, and became entrepreneurs. Free blacks and whites did business with one another, sued each other, worked side by side for equal wages, joined forces to found a Baptist congregation, moved west together, and occasionally settled down as man and wife. Slavery cast its grim shadow, even over the lives of the free, yet on Israel Hill we discover a moving story of hardship and hope that defies our expectations of the Old South.
Seems to have offended Ruffin about boating was that free blacks chose that occupation for themselves and conducted their work beyond the supervision of whites, proudly and sometimes quite profitably. Madison and Ruffin’s anti–free black vitriol may have had additional roots in their frustration with Virginians of their own race. Ruffin’s journal served as a weapon in its editor’s crusade to reform agriculture in Virginia: to replace soil-depleting tobacco monoculture and old-fashioned forms of.
Frances B. R. Tucker, letter to St. George Tucker, March 22, 1781, TC/W&M. “Old attendant Syphax”: John Randolph, letter to Theodorick Tudor Randolph, December 13, 1813 (typescript), Grinnan family papers, Mss1 G8855 d90, VHS. 12. Syphax as waiter: Thomas Green’s FNLs, 1801 and 1802 (“Waiter on Gentlemen”), and 1803 (“Waiter & Tender”). 13. “Pert walk”: Advertisement placed by Archer Taylor of Chesterfield in Richmond Enquirer, June 20, 1806, p. 4, col. 5, found amid CoCt papers, [apparently.
John Randolph, letter to St. George Tucker, May 9, 1801, John Randolph papers, Randolph-Macon Woman’s College (microfilm), UVa. It would be all but impossible to prove that John did not give any aid to the Israelites; but I have found no evidence that he did. 19. Residents of Hill: FNL, Green’s district, 1811. Giles’s chronology: Answer in Brown v Giles, CoCt 1841 Jun. 20. Log houses on Israel Hill: Demintions [sic] of a house built by P. White for Isaac Gibbs, White v Gibbs, CoCt 1833 May;.
Proceedings, Attorney General v Chambers’s trustees, Josiah Chambers acct with Watson, Allen & Green, his committee, 1809 Apr 26 (p. 30) and 1811 Mar 9 (p. 36), CoCt 1821 Nov; and John Purnall’s statement in CW v Surveyor of road from Bush River to county line, CoCt 1816 Aug. (On each of the occasions mentioned in the Chambers account, a slave was awarded a quart of brandy for rolling tobacco.) A planter running wagons: Anthony Brooks, David M. Doswell, and David Ellington depos, Doswell v.
Bought by Henry Y. Jenkins, John Rice, Colonel James Madison, and Booker Jackson. Improvements to Deneufville’s lot: Land tax rolls, John Deneufville, 1833 new entry, 1836 town lots, 1840 transfer from Deneufville to Read; WB 8/179–180, John Deneufville appraisal (1839). Purchase of slave: OB 21/103 (1824 Nov), deed recorded, Venable to Deneufville; see also Property tax 1835 (with one slave), 1836 (with no slave—owing to manumission of his wife?), and 1837 (ambiguous owing to a tear in the.