Historian chronicles flight of slaves during the War of 1812

Posted Sunday, Sep. 22, 2013  comments  Print Reprints
The Internal Enemy — Slavery and War in Virginia, 1772-1832 by Alan Taylor W.W. Norton & Co., $35

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The War of 1812 sometimes is referred to as America’s second war of independence with Britain. But the three-year clash with the British Navy was also an opportunity for emancipation of slaves living in the Chesapeake Bay area of Maryland and Virginia.

Historian Alan Taylor chronicles the flight of slaves, an estimated 3,400, to British warships in The Internal Enemy — Slavery and War in Virginia, 1772-1832.

Taylor was awarded the Pulitzer Prize in 1996 for William Cooper’s Town: Power and Persuasion on the Frontier of the Early American Republic. He has written extensively about early American history.

In The Internal Enemy, Taylor explains how the loss of slaves, along with the perception that the government was doing little to stop their flight, or retrieve them, sowed some of the Southern antagonism that led to the Civil War. Taylor is a distinguished professor at the University of California-Davis, but his latest work reads nothing like a textbook. Instead, he tells a captivating story through real accounts.

— Jean Marie Brown

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