NPS Hampton NHS
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  • Freedom Seeking

    Freedom seeking describes the process of escaping bondage the seek the basic human right of freedom. At Hampton, enslaved persons and white indentured servants both sought their freedom: sometimes white indentured servants and black enslaved persons sought their freedom together in the late 18th century, as is evident in newspaper escape ads.

    Over 80 enslaved persons sought their freedom from Hampton. Large groups of escapees were generally doomed to failure and the majority of successful journeys to freedom were taken by young men travelling alone or in pairs. One notable exception was the teenaged Rebecca Posey, daughter of Mark Posey, head waiter, perhaps the highest ranking enslaved position in the Hampton household. In 1852, his 15-year old daughter Rebecca chose to seek her freedom, despite the dangers involved. Rebecca was not recaptured and was documented as living in Baltimore City by the mid-1860s.

    Indentured freedom seekers often set out for port towns and escape ads specifically warned sea captains against taking these men and women onboard ships returning to Europe.

    Enslaved freedom seekers more typically made their way to Baltimore City where they might hope to be supported by a large free black community or to Pennsylvania, a free state with laws making it difficult for slave takers and owners to pursue and recapture them. Some, however, did not look for their own freedom but sought to return to family members on other plantations.

    Walk down the Farm Lane to learn move about the farming involved in Maryland plantation life.