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Humanities Institute

Author Talk: Alan S. Taylor – THE INTERNAL ENEMY: SLAVERY & WAR IN VIRGINIA, 1772-1832

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Author Talk: Alan S. Taylor – THE INTERNAL ENEMY: SLAVERY & WAR IN VIRGINIA, 1772-1832
October 15, 2013 12:00 pm
October 15, 2013 1:00 pm
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Time: 12:00 PM – 1:00 PM Location: UC Davis Memorial Union Store Lounge


Frederick Douglass recalled that slaves living along Chesapeake Bay longingly viewed sailing ships as “freedom’s swift-winged angels.” In 1813 those angels appeared in the bay as British warships coming to punish the Americans for declaring war on the empire. Over many nights, hundreds of slaves paddled out to the warships seeking protection for their families from the ravages of slavery. The runaways pressured the British admirals into becoming liberators. As guides, pilots, sailors, and marines, the former slaves used their intimate knowledge of the countryside to transform the war and enable the British to escalate their onshore attacks. Tidewater masters had long dreaded their slaves as “an internal enemy.” By mobilizing that enemy, the war ignited the deepest fears of Chesapeake slaveholders and alienated Virginians from a national government that had neglected their defense.

Drawing from new sources in THE INTERNAL ENEMY, Pulitzer and Bancroft Prize–winning historian Alan Taylor (UC Davis, History) takes a fresh look at one of our nation’s most forgotten conflicts, intertwining the stories of the military and political elite with the voices of common civilians and soldiers and bringing to light the previously untold stories of the hundreds of slaves who used the war to escape slavery. The newly freed slaves then used their freedom to strike a blow against slavery, launching personal missions to free others, serving as scouts and spies for the British and even joining a combat unit made of ex-slaves.

This event is sponsored by UC Davis Stores

For more information please contact: Paul Takushi, pmtakushi@ucdavis.edu, 530-752-9072

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