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This image shows a black background with white text to the left reading Finding Freedom Deborah's Choice to the left with a photo of actress Taylor J. Mitchell on the right.

In April of 1781, a British warship named the Savage sails down the Potomac River, demanding supplies from the farms and plantations in both Maryland and Virginia and threatening to burn those that don’t comply. For supporters of the Revolutionary cause, this ship and its sailors pose a dire threat. But for those enslaved at these properties, the British offer an opportunity: a chance to escape their bondage and possibly live a life in freedom. But what — and who — would they leave behind?

Sixteen-year-old Deborah was enslaved at Mount Vernon, the plantation of Continental Army Commander in Chief George Washington. In this theatrical performance, she wrestles with the decision of whether to leave and take a chance at freedom, or to stay behind, with her family and community. Is freedom worth the risks? Is staying? Watch to discover her story.

"Deborah’s Choice" was written by local playwright Ang Bey and performed by actor Taylor J. Mitchell. The performance video was produced by the Museum of the American Revolution. Funding for this project generously provided by Gabriela Aragon and the Pennsylvania State Society Children of the American Revolution.

"Finding Freedom: Deborah’s Choice" accompanies the Museum’s Finding Freedom online interactive, which explores the experiences and decision-making of five people of African descent all living in Virginia in 1781 as a confrontation between the British and the Revolutionary armies draws closer at Yorktown. Explore Deborah’s story, and those of Andrew, Eve, Jack, and London, in the online interactive.

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A watercolor depicts Deborah and Harry, with their backs to the viewer, aboard a ship setting sail for Nova Scotia. They look out on men and women in the streets fighting for their freedom, as the Americans won the war. Many people were fighting for a place on the ships that were evacuating Loyalists.

Finding Freedom

Explore the stories of African American men and women in war-torn Virginia with the Museum's award-winning Finding Freedom online interactive.
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Image 011421 16x9 Transparent Never Caught Armstrong Dunbar Cover

Never Caught

This excerpt from Erica Armstrong Dunbar examines the growth of anti-slavery sentiment in Philadelphia during the 1780s and 1790s.
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This image depicts the book cover of Epic Journeys of Freedom: Runaway Slaves of the American Revolution and their Global Quest for Liberty. The bottom of the book covers is a map of the world in red. The top of the book cover is an image of a man’s right eye and his nose. Behind his face is the extension of the map from the bottom.

Epic Journeys of Freedom

Read this excerpt from Cassandra Pybus that personalizes the wartime stories of black men and women who fled their American masters to seek freedom.
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