Near Manteo in Dare County, North Carolina — The American South (South Atlantic)
First Light of Freedom
The Freedmen’s Colony of Roanoke Island
—National Underground Railroad - Network To Freedom —
Former slaves give thanks by the creek’s edge
at the sight of the island - “If you can cross the
creek to Roanoke Island, you will find ‘safe haven’.”
[rendering of Edwin Forbes' "The Sanctuary"]
A year after the Civil War began, Roanoke Island fell to Union Forces. Word spread throughout North Carolina that slaves could find “safe haven” on the Island. By the end of 1862, over a thousand runaway slaves, freed men, women and children found sanctuary here. This colony, precursor to the Freedmen's Bureau, was to serve as a model for other colonies throughout the South. Once again this small island, site of the first English attempt at permanent settlement in the New World, became a land of historic beginnings.
The Freedmen's Colony encompassed unoccupied, unimproved lands from Manteo to the north and west shores, including some of the land today known as Fort Raleigh National Historic Site. A sawmill, hospital, a school for black female teachers, and homes were established. Able-bodied men were offered rations and employment to build a new fort. They also enlisted to form the First and Second North Carolina
Upon the war's end, the federal government discontinued rations and supplies to colonists and returned land to original owners. Reminiscent of early English efforts, the Roanoke Island Freedmen's colony was abandoned in 1867. Many freed people remained and their descendants would become respected local residents. Others settled in communities throughout the region and would become an integral part of eastern North Carolina culture.
Erected 2001 by National Underground Railroad Network to Freedom.
Location. 35° 56.214′ N, 75° 42.558′ W. Marker is near Manteo, North Carolina, in Dare County. Marker can be reached from National Park Drive 3 miles from U.S. 64. Click for map. The marker is at the main entrance to Fort Raleigh National Historic Site on Roanoke Island, three miles north of Manteo, NC. Marker is at or near this postal address: 1401 National Park Drive, Manteo NC 27954, United States of America.
Other nearby markers. At least 8 other markers are within one mile of this marker, measured as the crow flies. The New Fort in Virginia / Virginia Dare (within shouting distance of this marker); R. A. Fessenden (approx. First English Colonies (approx. 0.8 miles away); Fort Blanchard (approx. 0.9 miles away); Deliverance (approx. one mile away); Bondage (approx. one mile away); The Promised Land (approx. one mile away); Freedmen's Colony (approx. one mile away). Click for a list of all markers in Manteo.
Also see . . .
1. Fort Raleigh National Historic Site. (Submitted on January 8, 2008, by Richard E. Miller of Oxon Hill, Maryland.)
2. Website dedicated to the Roanoke Island Freedmen’s Colony. Site includes a short history of the Roanoke Island Freedmen’s Colony. (Submitted on January 8, 2008, by Kevin W. of Stafford, Virginia.)
3. Edwin Forbes - The Sanctuary. The illustration on the monument is entitled The Sanctuary. It was originally designed, etched and published by Edwin Forbes in 1876. This link highlights Edwin Forbes' inspiration for the design. (Submitted on July 22, 2008, by Kevin W. of Stafford, Virginia.)
Additional keywords. United States Colored Troops [USCT]
Categories. • Abolition & Underground RR • African Americans • Settlements & Settlers • War, US Civil •
Credits. This page originally submitted on , by Richard E. Miller of Oxon Hill, Maryland. This page has been viewed 2,316 times since then and 11 times this year. Last updated on , by Richard E. Miller of Oxon Hill, Maryland. Photos: 1. submitted on , by Kevin W. of Stafford, Virginia. 2, 3. submitted on , by Richard E. Miller of Oxon Hill, Maryland. 4. submitted on , by Kevin W. of Stafford, Virginia. 5. submitted on , by Kevin W. of Stafford, Virginia. • Bill Pfingsten was the editor who published this page. This page was last revised on June 16, 2016.