Espionage and Enslavement

Secret History of History

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Thursday, July 1, 2021
12:00 PM ET
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Free!: Registration Required
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With July 4th right around the corner, take a fresh look at one of the key members of the Revolutionary War era Culper Ring: Robert Townsend. He was an essential part of the network reporting on the British to General George Washington as Samuel Culper Jr., but he was also a man of his time, full of contradictions like wanting freedom for his country yet denying that same freedom to those who were enslaved.

Join us for a talk with author Claire Bellerjeau about her new book Espionage and Enslavement in the Revolution: The True Story of Robert Townsend & Elizabeth. Elizabeth, known as Liss, was enslaved by the Townsend family. Bellerjeau will reveal how she discovered Liss’s existence and then filled in details of an extraordinary life lived during a transformative period in our history. Liss’s story runs parallel with Townsend’s efforts as a key member of the Culper ring. Her history sheds light on the sentiments and values that Robert Townsend both aspired to and fell short of. How did Liss plot a daring escape? What was her connection to the Townsends and why did Robert Townsend seek to rescue this woman who had been sold South? Were the British involved? Of course! 

Please join us to learn more about Liss and Robert Townsend, and then you’ll be able to ask questions via our online platform.

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Auto-generated closed captioning will be available for this program.


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Espionage and Enslavement in the Revolution

In January 1785, a young African American woman named Elizabeth was put on board the Lucretia in New York Harbor, bound for Charleston, where she would be sold to her fifth master in just twenty-two years...
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