Black History Month
Explore the Stories of Unsung Revolutionaries at the Museum and Online During Black History Month
Virtual Forum on Racial Understanding Hosted in Partnership with the Dennis Farm During Black History Month, Feb. 20
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
When Women Lost the Vote: A Revolutionary Story: Thomas Blue
When Women Lost the Vote: A Revolutionary Story: Caesar Trent
Finding Freedom: London - Robert Pleasants’s Letter to Benedict Arnold
On January 30, 1781, London’s former owner, Robert Pleasants, wrote this letter to British Brigadier General Benedict Arnold, the American turncoat. Pleasants described how he valued London and wanted him to be returned. Soldiers from Arnold’s army had encamped near Pleasants’s plantation, called “Curles Neck,” earlier that month and may have persuaded London and his uncle, Carter Jack, to join them. London never returned to the Pleasants’s plantation.
Robert Pleasants Letterbook, Special Collections Research Center, Swem Library, College of William and Mary
When Women Lost the Vote: A Revolutionary Story: Discovering America’s First Women Voters, 1800 - 1807
In 2018 the Museum of the American Revolution discovered polling records that document for the first time a generation of women voters in early New Jersey. To date, we have discovered 163 women voters on nine poll lists who cast ballots across the state from 1800 to 1807. These lists introduce new stories of the first women voters in the United States – stories of the forgotten women who pioneered the vote.
The poll lists suggest women’s political significance and participation in local, state, and federal elections in early New Jersey. This first in-depth analysis of these nine poll lists from New Jersey refutes any presumption that women in the Early Republic were only passive witnesses and bystanders of the political processes that shaped the new nation.
Not only has the Museum discovered evidence of women voters in early New Jersey, we have also identified the names of at least four free Black male voters on one of the poll lists. While we have yet to confirm the identity of any free Black women voters, the presence of both women and free Black voters on these poll lists reveals the inclusive nature of the electoral system in New Jersey in the first few decades following American independence.
Finding Freedom: Deborah - George Washington’s Letter to Lund Washington
On April 30, 1781, General George Washington wrote this letter to Lund Washington, his cousin and farm manager, to express his disgust with Lund Washington’s decision to supply the British when they came to Mount Vernon earlier that month. In General Washington’s absence, Lund Washington convinced the British to spare the plantation from being destroyed by providing them with food and supplies. General Washington wrote in response, “It would have been a less painful circumstance to me, to have heard…they had burnt my House, & laid the Plantation in Ruins.” Lund Washington’s negotiation saved the property, but General Washington felt his honor had been tarnished by giving in to the enemy. The departure of 17 enslaved people, including Deborah, only worsened Washington’s embarrassment. Although the British left Washington’s plantation untouched, they burned many neighboring properties.
George Washington Papers, Manuscript Division, Library of Congress, Washington, DC
When Women Lost the Vote: A Revolutionary Story: PLG - Chester Township, Burlington County, New Jersey, October 1807
Chester Township, Burlington County, New Jersey, October 1807
This is a transcription of a poll list from a state election held at a schoolhouse in Moorestown, Chester Township, in October 1807. This list of voters includes the names of 38 women that cast their ballots just one month before the New Jersey State Legislature passed a bill defining voters as white, male citizens. The closing of the electorate effectively stripped the vote from women and free people of color in New Jersey.
A number of voters on this list have yet to be identified. As the Museum of the American Revolution continues its research, please contact us if you know more about any of the voters. Share your research with us.