Skip to content

The Internal Enemy

Slavery And War In Virginia, 1772-1832

By Alan Taylor, 1955- author

Winner of the 2014 Pulitzer Prize for History

This searing story of slavery and freedom in the Chesapeake by a Pulitzer Prize–winning historian reveals the pivot in the nation’s path between the founding and civil war.

Frederick Douglass recalled that slaves living along Chesapeake Bay longingly viewed sailing ships as "freedom’s swift-winged angels." In 1813 those angels appeared in the bay as British warships coming to punish the Americans for declaring war on the empire. Over many nights, hundreds of slaves paddled out to the warships seeking protection for their families from the ravages of slavery. The runaways pressured the British admirals into becoming liberators. As guides, pilots, sailors, and marines, the former slaves used their intimate knowledge of the countryside to transform the war. They enabled the British to escalate their onshore attacks and to capture and burn Washington, D.C. Tidewater masters had long dreaded their slaves as "an internal enemy." By mobilizing that enemy, the war ignited the deepest fears of Chesapeake slaveholders. It also alienated Virginians from a national government that had neglected their defense. Instead they turned south, their interests aligning more and more with their section. In 1820 Thomas Jefferson observed of sectionalism: "Like a firebell in the night [it] awakened and filled me with terror. I considered it at once the knell of the union." The notes of alarm in Jefferson's comment speak of the fear aroused by the recent crisis over slavery in his home state. His vision of a cataclysm to come proved prescient. Jefferson's startling observation registered a turn in the nation’s course, a pivot from the national purpose of the founding toward the threat of disunion. Drawn from new sources, Alan Taylor's riveting narrative re-creates the events that inspired black Virginians, haunted slaveholders, and set the nation on a new and dangerous course. 35 illustrations; 4 maps

Format

Book

Availability

1 available at Main (Downtown)
  • 975.503 Tay, Nonfiction

Publish Date

2013

ISBN

9780393073713


Format: Book
Author: Taylor, Alan, 1955- author
Summary: Drawn from new sources, a Pulitzer Prize-winning historian presents a gripping narrative that recreates the events that inspired hundreds of slaves to pressure British admirals into becoming liberators by using their intimate knowledge of the countryside to transform the war.
Title: The internal enemy : slavery and war in Virginia, 1772-1832 / Alan Taylor.
Publisher Date: New York, N.Y. : W.W. Norton & Company, [2013]
Subject: Slavery -- Virginia -- Tidewater (Region) -- History. Slaves -- Virginia -- Tidewater (Region) -- History. Plantation life -- Virginia -- Tidewater (Region) -- History. Virginia -- History -- War of 1812. United States -- History -- War of 1812 -- Participation, African American. United States -- History -- War of 1812 -- Naval operations, British.
Isbn: 9780393073713 (hardcover) 0393073718 (hardcover) 0393073718 9780393073713
Current Holds: 0
System Items Available: 1
System Items Total: 1
Call Number: 975.503 Tay
Oclc: 840934500
Upc:
Bib Id: 534768

Format: Book
Author: Taylor, Alan, 1955- author.
Summary: Drawn from new sources, a Pulitzer Prize-winning historian presents a gripping narrative that recreates the events that inspired hundreds of slaves to pressure British admirals into becoming liberators by using their intimate knowledge of the countryside to transform the war.
Title: The internal enemy : slavery and war in Virginia, 1772-1832 / Alan Taylor.
Edition: First edition.
Publisher, Date: New York, N.Y. : W.W. Norton & Company, [2013]
Description: xiii, 605 pages : illustrations, maps ; cm
Subjects: Slavery -- Virginia -- Tidewater (Region) -- History.
Subjects: Slaves -- Virginia -- Tidewater (Region) -- History.
Subjects: Plantation life -- Virginia -- Tidewater (Region) -- History.
Subjects: Virginia -- History -- War of 1812.
Subjects: United States -- History -- War of 1812 -- Participation, African American.
Subjects: United States -- History -- War of 1812 -- Naval operations, British.
Notes: Includes bibliographical references (pages 443-584) and index.
Contents: Revolution -- Night and day -- Blood -- Warships -- Invasion -- Lessons -- Plantation -- Flight -- Fight -- Crisis -- Agents -- Fire bell -- Appendix A. Corotoman slave families, 1814 -- Appendix B. Numbers.
LCCN: 2013009643
ISBN: 9780393073713 (hardcover)
ISBN: 0393073718 (hardcover)
ISBN: 0393073718
ISBN: 9780393073713
Requests: 0
Available Copies: 1
Total Copies: 1
Call Number: 975.503 Tay