Interview with Fort Monroe’s Terry Brown

_DSC0057.jpg
National Park Service’s Terry Brown

LINKS TO THE PODCAST:

Interview With Fort Monroe’s Terry Brown

RSS Feed

VA History Podcast on iTunes

VA History Podcast on Podbay

VA History Podcast on Spotify

VA History Podcast on Stitcher

VA History Podcast Store

Fort Monroe_001.jpg
Freedom and Salvation was found at Fort Monroe for many former slaves.

I love traveling all over Virginia. Finding off the beaten path locations, eating at local dives, learning poignant stories combine to make each trip memorable. Sometimes, however, I don’t have to travel to experience all that Virginia has to offer. Sometimes it’s in my back yard. That’s the case with Fort Monroe.

Fort Monroe’s story spans more than 400 years, even longer if one includes what we know of the native Kecoughtan tribe. The original Jamestown colonists first met the Kecoughtans in Spring 1607 before the colonists sailed up river to establish Jamestown. The colonists came back, established friendly relations, and over time built a series of lookout posts that endured through some hardest struggles that the colonists suffered.

That colonial outpost became the port of entry for one of America’s great peoples. In 1619 “20 and odd negroes” from Angola arrived signaling the beginning of a new era in Virginia and America’s history. That history hasn’t always been laudable as those original settlers built new lives and saw their progeny forced into slavery by as early as the 1640s. Those slaves and their stories have left a deep imprint not only on Virginia’s historical landscape, but on her physical makeup as well.

Point Comfort and her early fortifications developed into more permanent bastions in the early 19th century, largely aided by slave labor. After the British marauded the Chesapeake Bay region and burned Washington DC during the War of 1812, the sorely embarrassed government undertook a series of forts built to ensure such an invasion would never happen again. Fort Monroe was the keystone in that military wall.

_DSC0138.jpg
Old Point Comfort Lighthouse at night

The best military engineers of the day, including Robert E. Lee, descended upon Hampton to build the stone structure, as well as her sister fort known then as Fort Calhoun, but now known as Fort Wool, just off of Point Comfort’s coast.

These engineers were so successful that when the Civil War exploded onto history’s pages the Union maintained control of Fort Monroe, and never endured a serious threat to losing control of the strategic location.

Because the Union kept control they could use the fort as a starting point of major campaign thrusts toward Richmond. But the fort was also used for something else. Area slaves viewed Fort Monroe as potential salvation. Freedom.

On one May 1861 night three slaves tested their fate. They got into a skiff near Sewell’s Point, Norfolk, and rowed across the dangerous Hampton Roads waterway to reach Fort Monroe.

The Fort’s commanding officer, Benjamin Butler, had just been installed a day earlier, and now he had a decision to make. Butler was a lawyer from Massachusetts. He knew full well the law stating that runaway slaves were to be returned to their masters under the Fugitive Slave Law, but in a history changing decision, Butler decided to keep the runaway slaves as “contrabands of war.”

Word of Butler’s decision spread, and many more slaves poured into “Freedom’s Fortress” throughout the war.

After the Civil War ended, the region’s blacks largely remained. They started schools, notably built upon Mary Peake’s pioneering work, some of which was done in Fort Monroe before her 1862 death.

The American Missionary Association brought black and white leaders together in 1868 to formalize education by starting the Hampton Normal and Agricultural Institute, today’s Hampton University. Their mission was to teach and train freed black slaves, which attracted attention far and wide, perhaps most famously, Booker T. Washington.

Because of new opportunities, America’s black history, beginning in 1619, could now be seen as beginning anew in the 1860s, and it still centered at Point Comfort. The shining monument to that storied history is Fort Monroe, “Freedom’s Fortress.”

 

Sources:

Brasher, Glenn David. The Peninsula Campaign and the Necessity of Emancipation: African Americans and the Fight for Freedom (Civil War America). Chapel Hill, NC: UNC Press, 2012.

Clancy, Paul. Hampton Roads Chronicles: History from the Birthplace of America. Charleston, SC: The History Press, 2009.

Cobb, Michael J. Fort Wool: Star-Spangled Banner Rising. Charleston, SC: The History Press, 2009.

Cobb, Michael J. and Holt, Wythe. Hampton (Images of America). Charleston, SC: Arcadia Publishing, 2008.

Dunaway, Wilma A. The African-American Family in Slavery and Emancipation (Studies in Modern Capitalism). Cambridge: Cambridge University Press, 2003.

Fairfax, Colita Nochols. Hampton, Virginia (Black America Series). Charleston, SC: Arcadia Publishing, 2005.

Gallivan, Martin D. The Powhatan Landscape: An Archaeological History of the Algonquian Chesapeake (Society and Ecology in Island and Coastal Archaeology). Gainesville, FL: University of Florida Press, 2016.

Gould, William Benjamin. Diary of a Contraband: The Civil War Passage of a Black Sailor. Stanford: Stanford University Press, 2002.

Lippson, Alice Jane and Lippson, Robert. Life in the Chesapeake Bay. Baltimore, MD: John’s Hopkins, 2006.

Newby-Alexander, Cassandra. An African American History of the Civil War in Hampton Roads. Charleston, SC: The History Press, 2010.

Quarstein, John V. The Civil War on the Virginia Peninsula. Charleston, SC: Arcadia Publishing, 1997.

Quarstein, John V. Old Point Comfort Resort:: Hospitality, Health and History on Virginia’s Chesapeake Bay. Charleston, SC: The History Press, 2009.

Weaver, John R. A Legacy in Brick and Stone: American Coastal Defense Forts of the Third System, 1816-1867. Pictorial History Publishing, 2001.

Weinert Jr., Richard P. and Arthur, Robert. Defender of the Chesapeake: The Story of Fort Monroe. White Mane Publishing, 1989.

Links:

National Park Service: Fort Monroe

Fort Monroe Authority

Commemoration 2019

Previous Episode – 1619: Women and Africans Arrive

 

_DSC0052.jpg
Couples enjoying the boardwalk outside of Fort Monroe’s walls

 

 

 

All photography used on this site is owned and copyrighted by the author. The featured image is of Fort Monroe as seen from the North Sallyport.

Music used for this episode – Louis Armstrong and the Mills Brothers,”Carry Me Back to Old Virginia” available on iTunes, and “Egmont Overture” by Ludwig von Beethoven, performed by the Chicago Symphony.

The Dr. James Horn Interview

2019 Commemoration and I teamed up once again, and this time the podcast returned to Jamestown to interview Dr. James Horn.

Dr. Horn has made quite a name for himself in the history world with his most notable work being concerned with Colonial America. He is currently the President and Chief Officer at Jamestown Rediscovery Foundation at Historic Jamestowne in association with Preservation Virginia. Previously Dr. Horn served as Vice President of Research and Historical Interpretation at the Colonial Williamsburg Foundation, Saunders Director of the International Center for Jefferson Studies at Monticello, and taught at the University of Brighton, England for 20 years.

In addition to Dr. Horn’s considerable positions, he has written many books and articles which are cited often by leading academics and intellectuals alike. In October 2018 he is due to add to this already well-known body of work by publishing 1619: The Origins of
American Society. Do, be on the lookout for that volume, as it promises to be a great addition to 1619 scholarship.

_DSC0117.jpg
Dr. James Horn and Bartholomew Gosnold

LINKS TO THE PODCAST:

The James Horn Interview on Libsyn

RSS Feed

VA History Podcast on iTunes

VA History Podcast on Podbay

VA History Podcast on Stitcher

VA History Podcast Store

 

Books by James Horn:

Horn, James. Adapting to A New World: English Society in the Seventeenth Century Chesapeake. Raliegh, NC: North Caroline Press, 1994.

Horn, James. A Land as God Made It: Jamestown and the Birth of America. New York: Basic Books, 2005.

Horn, James. A Kingdom Strange: The Brief and Tragic History of the Lost Colony of Roanoke. New York: Basic Books, 2010.

Jamestowne Links:

Historic Jamestowne

Facebook

Instagram

Twitter

Youtube

 

Commemoration 2019 Links:

American Evolution 2019

Facebook

Instagram

Twitter

Youtube

 

 

All photography used on this site is owned and copyrighted by the author. The Featured Image is of Jamestown, as seen outside the recreated walls.

Music used for this episode – Louis Armstrong and the Mills Brothers,”Carry Me Back to Old Virginia” available on iTunes, and Hebrides Overture – “Fingal’s Cave” Op. 26 by Felix Mendlessohn performed by the London Symphony Orchestra.

 

1619 – Women and Angolans Arrive

Few events have left as lasting an impact upon Virginia’s history as the 1619 arrival of either the first women or the first Africans.

Both would shape the colony, and later the state, in unique ways. But what transpired to get both peoples to Virginia? And how did the few hundred surviving men welcome each group? Were they welcomed?

These questions are answered in this episode of the Virginia History Podcast. Find it on your favorite podcast provider, and have a listen!

_DSC0038-2.jpg
Point Comfort was where the captured Angolans disembarked for their new lives in Virginia

LINKS TO THE PODCAST:

1619 – Women and Angolans Arrive on Libsyn

RSS Feed

VA History Podcast on iTunes

VA History Podcast on Podbay

VA History Podcast on Stitcher

VA History Podcast Store

SOURCES:

Berhnard, Virginia. A Tale of Two Colonies: What Really Happened in Virginia and Bermuda? Columbia, MO: University of Missouri, 2011.

Billings, Warren M.; Selby, John E.; and Tate, Thad W. Colonial Virginia: A History. White Plains, NY: KTO Press. 1986.

Brown, Kathleen. Good Wives, Nasty Wenches, and Angry Patriarchs: Gender, Race, and Power in Colonial Virginia. Chapel Hill: UNC Press. 1996.

Craven, Wesley Frank. White, Red, and Black: The Seventeenth Century Virginian. Charlottesville, VA: University of Virginia Press, 1977.

Craven, Wesley Frank. The Southern Colonies in the Seventeenth Century: 1607-1689. LSU Press, 1949

Dabney, Virginius. Virginia: The New Dominion, A History from 1607 to the Present. Charlottesville, VA: University of Virginia Press, 1971.

Deans, Bob. The River Where America Began: A Journey Along the James. Plymouth, UK: Rowan and Littlefield, 2009.

Doherty, Kieran. Sea Venture: Shipwreck, Survival, and the Salvation of Jamestown. New York: St. Martin’s Press, 2008.

Glover, Lorri and Smith, Daniel Blake. The Shipwreck that Saved Jamestown: The Sea Venture Castaways and the Fate of America.

Hatch, Charles. The First Seventeen Years: Virginia 1607-1624. Charlottesville, VA: University of Virginia Press, 1991.

Horn, James. A Land as God Made It: Jamestown and the Birth of America. New York: Basic Books, 2005.

Hume, Ivor Noel. Here Lies Virginia. New York: Alfred Knopf, 1963.

Hume, Ivor Noel. The Virginia Adventure: Roanoke to James Towne – An Archaeological and Historical OdysseyNew York: Alfred A. Knopf, 1994.

Kelso, William M. Jamestown: The Buried Truth. Charlottesville, VA: University of Virginia Press, 2006.

Kupperman, Karen Ordhal. The Jamestown Project. Cambridge, MA: The Belknapp Press of Harvard University Press, 2007.

Mapp, Alfred J. Virginia Experiment: The Old Dominion’s Role in the Making of America, 1607-1781Lincoln, NE: iUniverse, Inc., 2006.

Price, David A. Love and Hate in Jamestown: John Smith, Pocahontas, and the Start of a New NationNew York: Vintage, 2003.

Rothbard, Murray N. Conceived in Liberty. Auburn, AL: Ludwig Von Mises Institute, 1999.

Rountree, Helen C. Powhatan Foreign Relations: 1500-1722.Charlottesville: University of Virginia Press, 1993.

Rountree, Helen C. Pocahontas, Powhatan, Opechancanough: Three Indian Lives Changed by Jamestown. Charlottesville, VA: UVA Press, 2005.

Smith, John. The Generall History of Virginia. 1624.

Strachey, William. Collected Works on the Internet Archive.

Tyler, Lyon Gardiner. The Cradle of the Republic: Jamestown and the James River. Richmond, VA: The Hermitage Press, 1906.

Wallenstein, Peter. Cradle of America: Four Centuries of Virginia History. Lawrence, KS: University Press of Kansas, 2007.

Williams, Tony. The Jamestown Experiment: The Remarkable Story of The Enterprising Colony and the Unexpected Results that Shaped America. Naperville, IL: Sourcebooks, 2011.

Wooley, Benjamin. Savage Kingdom: The True Story of Jamestown, 1607, and the Settlement of America. New York: Harper and Collins, 2007.

Special Link:

American Evolution

 

 

All photography used on this site is owned and copyrighted by the author unless otherwise noted. The Featured Image is William Ludwell Sheppard’s “Wives for Settlers”

Music used for this episode – Louis Armstrong and the Mills Brothers,”Carry Me Back to Old Virginia” available on iTunes, and “Seasons Colors” by Judah and the Lion, also available on iTunes.