Archive | September, 2015

Those Dangerous Quakers

  What could be more threatening, to an aristocratic member of a rigidly hierarchical society, than a man who refused to remove his hat for his betters? Who refused even to address his betters as “Master” or “Mistress,” and addressed everyone with the familiar “thee” instead of the respectful “you?” Quakers believed in the equal […]

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The Seven Slave Daughters of Elijah Bettis III

The descendants of Drew Bettis, the mixed-race grandson of Elijah Bettis III, have passed down the tradition for nearly 200 years: Elijah had seven enslaved daughters, by seven different enslaved women. All of them were close to each other and considered each other sisters. Some of their names persisted in the family for generations: Martha, […]

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Forgotten History: The First African-Americans in Virginia

In 1648, two Virginia slaves, Philip Mongon and Domingo Mathews, were loaned by their owner to one of his creditors, for a term of four years. Unfortunately, they “were very stubborn and would not follow his business.” Eventually they refused to work at all, until their owner provided a written agreement stating that if they […]

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