A University of Virginia Professor is celebrating a rare victory today – winning a Pulitzer prize for the second time.
Alan Taylor’s latest book – The Internal Enemy -- tells the story of 3,400 slaves who escaped from Virginia and Maryland plantations to British ships off the coast during the War of 1812.
“I found some important documents, including some letters written by these former slaves, telling dramatic stories of their night time escapes, fighting on behalf of the British as marines and sailors and nurses and laundresses and guides and pilots.”
In exchange, they won their freedom, settling in Canada, Trinidad, Britain and Spain. Taylor learned these things from documents he found in a surprising place – the National Archives.
“A claims commission was set up by the U.S. government to compensate masters, so the records are in the Dept. of State’s records, and it was only when I requested it and they brought out 11 boxes of this material that I realized that I had found a gold mine.”
Taylor has always wanted to write about America’s underdogs, and he hopes more people will read their stories thanks to the Pulitzer Prize.