The East Hampton Library’s Long Island Collection will welcome author Claire Bellerjeau for a fascinating discussion about her book Espionage and Enslavement in the Revolution: The True Story of Robert Townsend and Elizabeth. The live Zoom chat will take place on Thursday, May 20 at 7:00 p.m.
“This is a great opportunity to really understand a researcher’s work, to learn more about how the lives of enslaved people completely changed the way we understand the history of bigger events related to Robert Townsend and his work with the Culper Spy Ring,” Andrea Meyer, the Head of the East Hampton Library’s Long Island Collection, said.
Espionage and Enslavement in the Revolution: The True Story of Robert Townsend and Elizabeth focuses on Robert Townsend, a member of the Culper Spy Ring and one of George Washington’s most trusted spies, and his incredible efforts to rescue Elizabeth, an enslaved woman who had escaped from his family, but was found and re-enslaved. When writing the book, Bellerjeau utilized documents from the Long Island Collection.
In January 1785, Elizabeth was sent to Charleston, via the Lucretia from New York Harbor, and purchased by her fifth master in 22 years. The young mother was rescued by Townsend, who also kept her child safe while navigating her return to New York. During their harrowing journey, the pair came across with Benjamin Franklin, Alexander Hamilton, John Jay, Benedict Arnold, John André, and John Adams.
Bellerjeau, historian and director of education at Raynham Hall Museum in Oyster Bay, has studied the Townsend family and their slaves for more than 16 years. In 2005, she curated a yearlong exhibit on the Townsend “Slave Bible.”
“Claire is one of the leading experts on Culper Spy Ring history, and she’s done some phenomenal original manuscript research,” Meyer added. “As a museum educator with a background in theater, she tells a great story.”
There is no fee to attend the lecture, but attendees must register in advance.
For tickets, or more information, visit easthamptonlibrary.org.