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Finding Freedom: Deborah - Lund Washington’s List of Runaway Enslaved People

This handwritten list records the names of the 17 enslaved men and women who left Mount Vernon in search of their freedom with the British in 1781. The list includes 16-year-old Deborah. Lund Washington, General George Washington’s cousin and farm manager, frequently updated General Washington about Mount Vernon during the Revolutionary War, including reports of the British raid on the estate in 1781. Lund Washington’s list of enslaved people who left in 1781 records that seven people were captured and returned to Washington after the British surrender at Yorktown. Deborah escaped. 

Courtesy of Mount Vernon Ladies’ Association

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Finding Freedom: Andrew - Portrait of Major General Nathanael Greene

Andrew Ferguson served under the command of Continental Army Major General Nathanael Greene, shown in this portrait, at the Battle of Guilford Courthouse on March 15, 1781. Poorly supplied and understaffed, Major General Greene’s strategy in the winter and spring of 1781 was to harass the British Army while protecting his own regiments and militia. “We fight, get beat, rise, and fight again,” Greene wrote. “The whole country is one continuous scene of blood and slaughter.” At Guilford Courthouse, Greene’s army battled a smaller force under British General Cornwallis. Greene retreated from the field, but only after about 500 British soldiers were killed or wounded. Cornwallis and his crippled army did not pursue the Americans.

Courtesy of Independence National Historical Park

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Finding Freedom: Andrew - “Soldiers in Uniform”

This French officer’s depiction of American soldiers at the Siege of Yorktown shows a soldier of African descent from the Rhode Island Regiment of the Continental Army. During the Revolutionary War, Black and White soldiers fought alongside one another on both sides of the conflict. Historians estimate that between 4,000 and 8,000 men of African descent served in the Continental Army. In 1778, Rhode Island offered freedom to enslaved men in exchange for service. It created a regiment with privates of African and Native American ancestry, officered by White men. In 1781, the Rhode Island line was collapsed from two regiments into one integrated unit with segregated companies.

Anne S.K. Brown Military Collection, Brown University Library

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Finding Freedom: Andrew - Gravestone

Andrew Ferguson is buried in Rose Hill Cemetery in Bloomington, Indiana. This stone, dedicated by the Daughters of the American Revolution in 1984, marks his grave.

Photo by Rich Janzaruk, “Bloomington Herald-Times”

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Finding Freedom: Andrew - United States House of Representatives’s Response to Revolutionary War Pension Pay Increase

In 1844, Andrew Ferguson sent a petition to the United States Government to request an increase in his Revolutionary War pension payments due to the growing pain of his wartime injuries. This written record documents the denial of Ferguson’s request by the House of Representatives one year later. According to this document, Ferguson had gathered support from “several hundred” people who signed his petition. The House of Representatives denied his application because Ferguson’s petition did not include sworn testimony from people that could authenticate his claims about his military service and wounds. 

National Archives and Records Administration, Washington, DC

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Finding Freedom: Andrew - Record of Marriage

Andrew Ferguson married Jenny (or Jinny) Murphey in Monroe County, Indiana, in 1844. According to the 1850 United States Census for Monroe County, Jenny (listed on the census as Jane Ferguson) was born in Maryland. 

Monroe County History Center Collection, Bloomington, IN

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Finding Freedom: Andrew - United States Census, 1850

Andrew Ferguson moved to Indiana (which became a state in 1816) after the Revolutionary War. The 1850 United States Census, shown here, documents Ferguson’s residence in Monroe County. Ferguson and his wife Jane (also known as Jenny; married in 1844) are listed near the bottom of the page. “B” in the column to the right of their age and gender stands for Black, their race. Andrew Ferguson is listed as being 95 years old (or born in about 1755), but he had previously claimed that he was born in about 1765. 

National Archives and Records Administration, Washington, DC/Ancestry.com

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Finding Freedom: Andrew - United States Census, 1840

Andrew Ferguson moved to Indiana (which became a state in 1816) after the Revolutionary War. The 1840 United States Census, shown here, documents Ferguson’s residence in Monroe County. Ferguson is listed as a Revolutionary War veteran who received a pension for his military service. He is listed as being 82 years old (or born in about 1758), but he had previously claimed that he was born in about 1765. No other family members are documented in his household. 

National Archives and Records Administration, Washington, DC/Ancestry.com

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Finding Freedom: Andrew - United States Census, 1830

Andrew Ferguson moved to Indiana (which became a state in 1816) after the Revolutionary War. The 1830 United States Census, shown here, documents Ferguson’s residence in Monroe County. Ferguson is listed as a “Free Colored” man between the ages of 55 and 100. A “Free Colored” woman between the ages of 36 and 55, possibly his first wife, is listed in Andrew’s household. No other family members are documented in their household. 

National Archives and Records Administration, Washington, DC/Ancestry.com

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Finding Freedom: Andrew - Revolutionary War Bounty Land Certificate

As a reward for military service during the Revolutionary War, veterans, like Andrew Ferguson, could apply to receive land in what is now the Midwest region of the United States. The land had been previously settled by Native Americans and taken over by the United States Government. According to an act passed by Congress in March 1855, veterans, their widows, or the children of deceased veterans could apply to receive 160 acres of land. The United States Department of the Interior sent this document to Andrew Ferguson in 1856 to officially grant him the land he earned for his service. Ferguson, however, died the same year. 

National Archives and Records Administration, Washington, DC/Fold3.com

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