“That Freedom Ain’t for Me” at Colonial Williamsburg
After the reading of the Declaration of Independence, residents of colonial Williamsburg wonder what it means for them, in the Revolutionary City skit “That Freedom Ain’t for Me”.
One such resident was Lydia Broadnax, a literate slave in the home of George Wythe, whose name appears first among Virginians to sign the document.
Working in the home of one of Virginia’s leading patriots, Mrs. Broadnax heard the ideas of freedom and independence before they bore fruit in her own life.
Mrs. Broadnax was born c. 1742, but it’s not certain when she joined the Wythe household. Mr. Wythe granted her freedom in 1787, but she continued to work for him until his 1806 death by poisoning. As his cook, Mrs. Broadnax may have been able to identify Mr. Wythe’s ne’er-do-well grand-nephew and namesake George Wythe Sweeney as his murderer, but it was illegal for a black woman to testify against a white man, and Mr. Sweeney was never convicted.
History records little of her life afterwards. Mrs. Broadnax died some time during 1820-27 and is buried on property she owned in Richmond.
Freedom and independence weave their way slowly and awkwardly through real people’s lives.
For two decades, I worked at political jobs. Then my parents got sick, and I went home to help care for them, and they died, fourteen weeks apart, in their late 60s. And I decided that life is too dear, and too uncertain, to fritter away in political offices. I fought back the sorrow with travel, and started this blog. I believe that passions are more fun when you share them with others, and my hope is to share my passions for travel and culture with you. Welcome! Read more …