‘Israel on the Appomattox’ author visits Sweet Briar

| March 13, 2014

UPDATED Thursday, March 13

Lecture rescheduled for March 27

Melvin Ely’s lecture will be held at 5 p.m. Thursday, March 27, in Memorial Chapel. The event is free and open to the public.


UPDATED Tuesday, March 4

Lecture canceled due to to inclement weather

Melvin Ely’s lecture was canceled as a result of yesterday’s storm and will be rescheduled on a date to be announced.


PUBLISHED Monday, Feb. 24

Melvin Patrick Ely will speak about his award-winning book, “Israel on the Appomattox: A Southern Experiment in Black Freedom from the 1790s Through the Civil War,” at 5 p.m. Monday, March 3, in the Wailes Lounge at Sweet Briar’s Florence Elston Inn & Conference Center. A book signing and reception will follow.

Ely writes and teaches about the history of African-Americans and the South. His books include “The Adventures of Amos ‘n’ Andy: A Social History of an American Phenomenon.”

“Israel on the Appomattox” is a historical account of a free black community in pre-Civil War Prince Edward County, Va., that was founded by the former slaves of Richard Randolph. Randolph had inherited his slaves and when he died as a young man in 1796, he directed that they be freed and receive 400 acres of his land “on which to build new lives as independent men and women,” Ely writes in the first chapter. When Randolph’s wishes were carried out years after his death, the freed people called their home Israel Hill.

The book earned Ely the Bancroft Prize, the American Historical Association’s Albert J. Beveridge Award for best book on American history and the Library of Virginia Literary Award for Nonfiction, among other honors.

Ely is the William R. Kenan Jr. Professor of Humanities at the College of William & Mary. In 2006, he was awarded the Virginia Outstanding Faculty Award. During his years at Yale University, Ely received both the Prize for Outstanding Scholarly Publication or Research and the Prize for Teaching Excellence. From 1998 to 1999, Ely served as Fulbright Professor of American Studies at the Hebrew University of Jerusalem and in 2013 as visiting professor at Leiden University in the Netherlands. He holds a doctoral degree from Princeton University and a master’s degree in linguistics from the University of Texas at Austin.

For more information, contact Kate Chavigny at [email protected] or (434) 381-5808.

Jennifer McManamay


Category: History, Uncategorized