Wednesday, October 19, 2016

Jordan Freeman- The Fight to Set a People Free

On October 19th NCCHP presented Kevin Johnson as Jordan Freeman, an African-American servant of John Ledyard and the body servant of Col. William Ledyard in the Revolutionary War. Jordan Freeman was an actual person, a native of Old Lyme, Connecticut. He witnessed and participated in key events of the war while with Col. Ledyard.

Jordan Freeman was a hero at the Battle of Groton Heights, one of the bloodiest battles of the Revolutionary War. To give you some idea of the scope of the bravery of the patriot militia defending New London, they were approximately 150 in number under the command of William Ledyard, facing a total invading force of 1700 British regulars under the command of the traitor Benedict Arnold, 800 of whom were directly involved in the attack on Fort Griswold at Groton Heights.

Kevin Johnson as Jordan Freeman
Kevin Johnson's moving portrayal, his 151st performance as Jordan Freeman, was brilliant. The audience was completely absorbed in the moment, breaking into applause several times during the performance.

Historians estimate the number of black soldiers in this war to have been about 5,000 men who served in militias, seagoing services and support activities. Some enlisted because they felt it was their duty; others because they were offered their freedom in return for satisfactory completion of a set period of service.

Mr. Johnson recommended several additional resources:

The Colored Patriots of the American Revolution, by William C. Nell (1855), available in reprint from Amazon and other sources.

"The Colored Patriots of the American Revolution" by Wm. C. Nell, 1855
Facsimile of document signed by George Washington granting freedom to a former
slave in return for service during the Revolutionary War (Wm. C. Nell book)

Connecticut's Black Soldiers 1775-1783, by David O. White (1973), available from Amazon and other sources.

Other black patriots mentioned during the presentation includes Granville's own Lemuel Haynes, Venture Smith, Crispus Attucks and Prince Estabrook.

The Jordan Freeman presentation is based on extensive research in the collections of the Connecticut State Library and the Museum of Connecticut History at 231 Capitol Ave., opposite the state capitol in Hartford.

Kevin Johnson is an employee of the State Library's History and Genealogy Unit. In addition to portraying Jordan Freeman, he has been presenting as Pvt. William Webb, a soldier in the Civil War, for more than 18 years and has given more than 500 presentations.

So concludes NCCHP's 2016 Living History series. It was an outstanding year of wonderful presentations. If you missed this year please resolve to join us in Granville for the 2017 series, and if you joined us in 2016 thank you for supporting NCCHP, dedicated to keeping the drumbeat of history alive.