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In The True Blue’s Wake: Slavery and Freedom Among the Families of Smithfield Plantation by Daniel B. Thorp

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The True Blue was the slave ship upon which the first sixteen enslaved Africans traveled across the Atlantic before they were purchased in 1759 by William Preston to become workers on his Smithfield Plantation at Blacksburg, Virginia. Thanks to author Thorp, we understand much of the context of what this book chronicles. His 2017 hardback, reprinted as a trade paperback in 2019, Facing Freedom: An African American Community in Virginia from Reconstruction to Jim Crow thoroughly covers all of Montgomery County, Virginia, where the Smithfield Plantation was located. Approximately the first half of his new book covers the period before emancipation, but the second half follows the formerly enslaved and their progeny into the present. “In the True Blue’s Wake is an ambitious undertaking, stunningly achieved. Daniel Thorp’s impressive research puts living flesh on the bare bones the archives have to offer. This wholly original study leaves us with a portrait of the patience and determination – and frequently heroism – it took for those Black Virginians at Smithfield, and their descendants, to survive and leave slavery in the wake of their own march to freedom.” William C. Davis. “Written with great empathy, Thorp’s powerful narrative connects the fascinating story of an enslaved community with the pioneering movements of freedpeople and their descendants.” – Warren Milteer, Jr. The author, Daniel B. Thorp is a history professor at Virginia Tech, right there in Montgomery County, Virginia.

 Charlottesville: The University of Virginia Press, 2022. 190 pages with an Index, Bibliography, Notes, Appendices, photos, maps, documents, and charts. Hardback in dust jacket.