A Spy Called James: The True Story of James Lafayette, Revolutionary War Double Agent

James was a slave in Virginia when the American Revolution began. Wanting to earn his freedom while helping the new country, he volunteered for the Revolutionary Army, with the promise of his freedom at the war’s end—if the Americans were victorious. He was assigned to work for the young and brilliant French commander who was…
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Never Caught: The Washingtons’ Relentless Pursuit of Their Runaway Slave Ona Judge

In traditional biographies of the Washingtons, the subject of slavery rarely comes up, or, if it does, it is given a paragraph or perhaps a chapter to explain the “peculiar institution” as it related to the first First Family. There is nothing like a personal story—a slave’s personal and true story—to get a deeper perspective…
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Horrible History of Medicine

When it comes to the science of medicine, there is much to be grateful for. Vaccines, blood typing, x-rays, antibiotics - all make huge differences in how we are treated for accidents and ailments. For those of us who are perhaps morbidly curious, or at least not terribly squeamish, exploring the history of medicine is…
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Westmoreland County’s African American History

Westmoreland County’s African American history dates back to the 17th century. During the earliest years, both slaves from Africa and white indentured servants were imported to the Northern Neck (the land between the Potomac and Rappahannock rivers) to work on farms and plantations, with African slaves becoming more prevalent over time.  17th Century – The…
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Book Corner: Celebrating Black History Month with Books

Black History Month means much more than celebrating the overcoming of adversity. It is much more than commending the change-makers and the activists. These are certainly important, but it’s also about embracing the everyday joy, passion, and culture of African American heritage. There are many ways to participate in Black History Month (year-round, not just in…
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Hartwood History

Beyond the I-95 Corridor Drive out Route 17 north from Falmouth, past the strip malls, the shopping centers, and the subdivisions, and you’ll find that as the roadside gets less crowded, the scenery becomes more historic. In the 18th century, this corridor was more a place for pioneers than for fancy plantation owners, though there…
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Fredericksburg in Revolutionary Days, Part I

William and Mary College Quarterly Historical Magazine (William and Mary Quarterly) Volume XXVII, No. 2. October 1918. pp. 73-95. Parts II and III may also be read online.  FREDERICKSBURG IN REVOLUTIONARY DAYS PART I. In a charming diary kept by him while under indentures to Colonel William Daingerfield, of Belvideira (a plantation on the river about seven miles below Fredericksburg) John Harrower a clever Scotchman…
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Fredericksburg in Revolutionary Days: Part II

"Fredericksburg in Revolutionary Days: Part II" The William and Mary Quarterly, Vol. 27, No. 3 (Jan., 1919), pp. 164-175. Parts I and III are also available to read online. In November, 1775, Harrower tells us of a muster of the minute men of the district, composed of the counties of Spotsylvania, Caroline, King George, and Stafford, which was held…
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Fredericksburg in Revolutionary Days: Part III

Source: The William and Mary Quarterly, Vol. 27, No. 4 (Apr., 1919), pp. 248-257.  Parts I and II may also be read online.  FREDERICKSBURG IN REVOLUTIONARY DAYS (Concluded) PART III. We come now to the record of one of the most important of Virginia's institutions for the prosecution of the war: the manufactory of small arms established by ordinance of the Convention of July…
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