Near Manteo in Dare County, North Carolina — The American South (South Atlantic)
Let my people go.
The bloodbath called the Civil War had begun and would cost the lives of over 600,000 Americans. As the Union armies advanced south, refugee slaves followed. After the Northern capture of Roanoke Island in February 1862, more than 3,000 ex-slaves arrived on the island. At the direction of Maj. Gen. John G. Foster, Army chaplain Horace James organized a formal colony with one-acre lots provided for about 600 families on the northern end of the island. Schools, mills, and houses were built.
At the war’s end almost 6,000 ex-slaves resided in Freedmen’s Town. These people tasted the sweet air of liberty for the first time on the north end of Roanoke Island. Marriages were legalized and equal rights and privileges were granted in courts of law. The promise seemed to be finally coming true for African-Americans and they discovered what all free people know. Freedom is never free!
With my hands against my breast I was going to my work when the overseer used to whip me along. Now, no more of that, no more of that. We’re free now; bless the Lord. They can’t sell my wife and child anymore, bless the Lord, no more of that, no more of that.
Location. 35° 55.67′ N, 75° 43.418′ W. Marker is near Manteo, North Carolina, in Dare County. Marker is on Freedman's Colony Road near U.S. 64/264, on the right when traveling west. Touch for map. Marker is located at a pull-off on the right just before the William B. Umstead Memorial Bridge on the northern end of Roanoke Island. Marker is in this post office area: 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. Bondage (here, next to this marker); The Promised Land (here, next to this marker); Naval Battle of Roanoke Island (within shouting distance of this marker); Fort Huger (about 300 feet away, measured in a direct line); Fort Blanchard (approx. 0.2 miles away); First English Colonies (approx. ¼ mile away); R. A. Fessenden (approx. 0.3 miles away); First Light of Freedom (approx. one mile away). Touch for a list and map of all markers in Manteo.
More about this marker. The large picture of the marker is titled, The Sanctuary. It was drawn by Edwin Forbes in 1876. The caption also identifies the picture as Lithograph Plate No. 40. This same drawing appears on the nearby marker, First Light of Freedom.
Categories. • Abolition & Underground RR • African Americans • Settlements & Settlers •
Credits. This page was last revised on June 16, 2016. This page originally submitted on July 29, 2008, by Kevin W. of Stafford, Virginia. This page has been viewed 1,400 times since then and 30 times this year. Photos: 1, 2. submitted on July 29, 2008, by Kevin W. of Stafford, Virginia.