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Middlesex Museum holds ‘Israel on the Appomattox’ lecture Sunday

The Middlesex County Museum and Historical Society is sponsoring a virtual lecture,” Israel on the Appomattox,” to be offered at 4 p.m. Sunday via Zoom by William and Mary Professor Dr. Melvin Patrick Ely. A question-and-answer period will follow the lecture.

Ely will discuss his book, “Israel on the Appomattox: A Southern Experiment in Black Freedom from the 1790s Through the Civil War.” Widely acclaimed, the book is the winner of the prestigious Bancroft Prize given annually by Columbia University.

The book tells the story of Israel Hill, a community of liberated African Americans in Prince Edward County. Israel Hill was settled by approximately 90 freed blacks who had received their freedom and 350 acres of land from Judith Randolph, the widow of Thomas Jefferson’s cousin, Richard Randolph. Randolph had directed this emancipation in his will.

The formerly enslaved and other free African Americans established farms, navigated the Appomattox River, and became entrepreneurs. ...

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