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Rhonda Brace (left), a descendent of Jeffrey Brace, who was enslaved during the Revolutionary era, found freedom, and wrote a memoir in 1810, which was republished in 2004 by Kari Winter (right).
It is my anxious wish that this simple narrative may be the means of opening the hearts of those who hold slaves and move them to consent to give them the freedom which . . . all mankind have an equal right to possess.
Jeffrey Brace, from his memoir published in 1810

In his rare and powerful personal memoir, Jeffrey Brace, an enslaved man who won his freedom through service during the Revolutionary War, recounts his harrowing journey from enslavement to free farmer to abolitionist. Nearly two centuries later, historian and author Dr. Kari J. Winter brought this important work back into the public consciousness when she republished the memoir, supplementing our knowledge of Brace’s life and times with original documents and new material.

In February 2022, in her talk Reclaiming Freedom: Race, Revolution, and the American Story of Jeffrey Brace, as part of the Museum's Read the Revolution Speaker Series, Winter recounted her journey to uncover Brace’s extraordinary fight for freedom. Following the presentation, family historian Rhonda Brace, a descendant of Jeffrey Brace, and Museum President & CEO Dr. R. Scott Stephenson joined the conversation to reflect on Brace’s life.

About Dr. Kari J. Winter

Kari Winter Headshot

Professor of American Studies in the Department of Global Gender Studies at the University at Buffalo, Kari J. Winter is a historian, literary critic and screen writer who has served as the Director of the UB Gender Institute (2011-17) and Executive Director of the UB Humanities Institute (2017-18). She completed her Ph.D. in English at the University of Minnesota and BA in English and History at Indiana University. Her books include The American Dreams of John B. Prentis, Slave Trader (2011), The Blind African Slave: or, Memoirs of Boyrereau Brinch, Nicknamed Jeffrey Brace (scholarly edition of long-lost 1810 slave narrative, 2005), and Subjects of Slavery, Agents of Change: Women and Power in Gothic Novels and Slave Narratives, 1790- 1865 (1992, 1995, 2010). Winter also has published dozens of scholarly articles, book chapters, and reviews and has presented keynote addresses, conference papers, and guest lectures at more than eighty venues on four continents. 

About Rhonda Brace

Rhonda Brace Headshot

Rhonda Brace is the seventh-generation granddaughter of Jeffrey Brace, an enslaved man whose harrowing journey from slave to Revolutionary War soldier to farmer to abolitionist is recounted in his memoir, The Blind African Slave, published in 1810. Brace, who is based in Massachusetts, is an independent researcher and the Brace family's historian.

Read the Revolution is sponsored by The Haverford Trust Company.

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Book cover for The Blind African Slave, Jeffrey Brace's Memoir, originally published in 1810 and Edited By Kari Winter
 

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