The Fort Ticonderoga Author Series features presentations by authors of books related to Fort Ticonderoga’s history.
Join author Claire Bellerjeau for a talk about her book Espionage and Enslavement in the Revolution: The True Story of Robert Townsend and Elizabeth. Bellerjeau will discuss her discovery of a new founding figure named Elizabeth, or Liss, enslaved by the Townsend family of New York, whose son Robert was George Washington’s spy in Manhattan during the Revolutionary War. Liss’s escape with the British, re-enslavement, and struggle for freedom gives new insight into the country’s founding era, through the eyes of an enslaved Black woman seeking liberty in a country fighting for its own. As Robert and Liss’s story unfolds, prominent figures cross their path, including George Washington, Benjamin Franklin, Alexander Hamilton, John Jay, Benedict Arnold, John Graves Simcoe, John André and John Adams; as well as the Culper Spy Ring, the Boston Massacre, the Battle of Long Island, and the Benedict Arnold treason plot.
Claire Bellerjeau is the co-author of Espionage and Enslavement in the Revolution: The True Story of Robert Townsend and Elizabeth, published in May of 2021. Bellerjeau is the founder of a non-profit organization called Remember Liss, with the mission to educate the community about the extraordinary life and times of an enslaved Black woman from New York named Elizabeth, or Liss. She formerly served as Historian and Director of Education at Liss’s birthplace, Raynham Hall Museum in Oyster Bay, New York. She has been researching the Townsend family and those they enslaved for over seventeen years, including curating a yearlong exhibit on the Townsend “Slave Bible” in 2005. In 2015, during a research visit to the New York Historical Society, she discovered what may be one of the earliest poems ever written by Jupiter Hammon, America’s first published African American writer. She has developed educational programs on the subjects of slavery in New York and the American Revolution on Long Island and created a new curriculum to share Liss’s story using primary documents from her research.
Your participation in these online programs through the Center for Digital History supports Fort Ticonderoga’s mission to preserve, educate, and provoke an active discussion about the past and its importance to present and future generations.
Autographed copies of this book are available through the online Fort Ticonderoga Museum Store here.
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