Exhibit 5

David Minge, Legendary Emancipator

David Minge Legendary Emancipator“Extraordinary Munificence” headlined the story carried by newspapers across the nation from Maine to Florida and as far west as Indiana. It was the tale of a 24-year-old Virginian who had returned from studies at Harvard College and undertaken an act of extraordinary generosity. Gathering 87 slaves at the river’s edge, David Minge, owner of the Rowe Plantation in Charles City and another in North Carolina, told the slaves he was setting them free and putting them on a vessel that would carry them across the water to Haiti, a nation wrested from French colonial rule by its self-liberated slave population. Photo courtesy Library of Congress. Norfolk Herald 25 July 1825.

David Minge Legendary EmancipatorThe story is even more interesting when David Minge’s family connections are added to the tale. David was the son of George William Hunt Minge and his wife Frances Dandridge. Although he was orphaned at a young age his mother’s family likely left lasting impressions on David’s world view. His grandfather was Bartholomew Dandridge, brother of Martha Washington and his uncle, Bartholomew Dandridge, Jr. was a secretary to the President himself. Painting by Edward Savage, 1796, National Gallery of Art, (NGA accession #1940.1.2) in Slavery Images: A Visual Record of the African Slave Trade and Slave Life in the Early African Diaspora, www.slaveryimages.org.

David Minge Legendary EmancipatorWhen the President emancipated his slaves, the consequences were not limited to Martha and her heirs, but extended to the Dandridge family as well. David’s grandfather died in 1785 indebted to the President. Washington agreed to trade his debt for ownership of the Dandridge slaves which then totaled some 30 in number. These slaves were left in the custody of David’s grandmother. By the time George Washington wrote his will the Dandridge slaves numbered more than 40. By his will Washington emancipated the Dandridge slaves on the death of his sister-in-law. Thus, David had a powerful, and personal, role model for emancipating slaves. Junius B. Stearns, 1851, Virginia Museum of Fine Arts, Richmond in Slavery Images: A Visual Record of the African Slave Trade and Slave Life in the Early African Diaspora, www.slaveryimages.org.

David Minge Legendary EmancipatorFamily also likely influenced David’s choice of Haiti as the destination for his emancipated slaves. The St. Domingo slave revolt in 1791 sent shock waves throughout Tidewater Virginia. White refugees from St. Domingo came to Virginia with their slaves and tales of the uprising spread like wildfire through the slave community. During the following two years seven real or imagined slave uprisings or conspiracies were reported, including one in Charles City.The self-liberated slave revolt against French colonial authority finally resulted in an independent Haiti in 1804, but fears of southern slaveholders kept the U.S. from recognizing Haiti until 1862. However, even before independence finally was achieved, David’s uncle was nominated by President John Adams and confirmed by the Senate in 1801 as U.S. Consul for the southern district of St. Domingo, apparently to seek a renewal of commerce. Anon., Saint-Domingue, ou histoiire de ses revolutions (Paris, 1815), facing title page (Copy in Library company of Philadelphia) in Slavery Images: A Visual Record of the African Slave Trade and Slave Life in the Early African Diaspora, www.slaveryimages.org.

David Minge Legendary EmancipatorAmerican papers reported that U.S. Consul Dandridge was honorably received by the government on his arrival at Aux-Cays in June 1801, and that Gen. Jean-Jacques Dessalines himself and a great number of respectable citizens were in attendance. Dessalines was a leader of the revolt and the first ruler of independent Haiti. Barely a year after his much-heralded arrival, U.S. Consul Bartholomew Dandridge was dead. His obituary notice described him as “universally respected and esteemed.” Although David never knew his uncle, it seems likely he would have learned a great deal about Haiti from family members, and that what he learned was favorable enough that he believed it could provide a safe start for his emancipated slaves. Image courtesy Wikipedia. Alexandria Advertiser 03 July 1801; Virginia Argus 18 Aug. 1802.

David Minge Legendary EmancipatorDespite this rich family history, the only explanation David Minge provided to newspapers eager to know his story was that “he conceived it would be doing a service to his county to send them out of it; they had all been good servants, [and] that he was rich enough without them.” At least one abolitionist newspaper, however, claimed Mr. Minge was a subscriber and that his decision to emancipate his slaves was linked to similar decisions made by other subscribers of The Genius of Universal Emancipation. 02 Dec. 1840 Christian Reflector; Norfolk Herald 25 July 1825. Image courtesy Library of Congress.

David Minge Legendary EmancipatorOn the day of the embarkation, Capt. Russell, one of the owners of the brig Hannah & Elizabeth, reported that “there were put onboard … eighty-seven colored people of all different ages, from three months to forty years, being all the slaves which Mr. M. owned, except two old men, whom he had likewise manumitted, but who being past service he retains and supports.” The paper estimated the value of the slaves to be about $26,000, or more than half a million dollars in today’s currency. Norfolk Herald 25 July 1825. Photo by Annie Spratt on Unsplash.com.

David Minge Legendary EmancipatorPrior to departure, Minge reportedly spent about $1,200 purchasing plows, hoes, iron tools, clothing, cooking utensils, provisions and groceries so that his people would have everything they needed during their passage and on their arrival. He also paid $1,600 for the charter of the vessel. Finally, he gathered his slaves around and from a “peck” of dollars dispensed $7.00 to each individual so that his emigrants would be able to commence cultivation of the soil immediately after their arrival without being “dependent on President Boyer for any favors or permissions.” Norfolk Herald 25 July 1825. Negro Habitations, Samuel Hazard, Santo Domingo, past and present, with a glance at Hayti, New York: Harper and Brothers, 1873, facing p. 368 in Slavery Images: A Visual Record of the African Slave Trade and Slave Life in the Early African Diaspora, www.slaveryimages.org.

David Minge Legendary EmancipatorIn the same year as the Minge emancipation, Charles City planter Thomas Binford died, providing in his will for the emancipation of 23 named slaves and leaving them all his personal property. Because the will was written nine years before Binford’s death the total number of emancipated slaves likely was more than 23. Binford’s will provided if the slaves could not remain in Virginia as free persons his executors were to sell his plantation and purchase land in a “free” state. The Binford executors bought land outside Steubenville, Ohio, and the emancipated slaves settled there. These twin emancipations created a significant diaspora of Charles City slaves. Charles City County Will Book No. 3, pgs. 52-53. Photo by Marcus Petritz on Unsplash.com.

David Minge Legendary EmancipatorDavid Minge, a nationwide celebrity at age 24, seems thereafter to have lived a quiet life. He became a doctor, lived in the City of Petersburg and married a woman who was 12 years his elder. He survived the Civil War and a year before his death in 1867 was elected as one of the white delegates to the Virginia Republican State Convention, apparently as one of a group of Petersburg moderates who were trying to find a way to work with more radical factions. He was dead a year later at age 67, leaving a widow, but no children. The Richmond Dispatch described Minge has having “some eccentricities, but ... of a genial disposition, and extremely kind and liberal in his feelings.” “In the prime of life, he was distinguished for his fine person and elegant manners.” Richmond Whig 30 July 1867; Richmond Dispatch 20 Oct. 1868.

next: Exhibit 6: Fort Pocahontas – Black troops tested