Francis Drake, Norfolk, Virginia

Francis Drake – The First Free African American In Norfolk, Virginia

Before 1723, any slave could only be freed based off of a special act of the Virginia General Assembly. Between 1723 and the end of the American Revolution only twenty three African Americans were emancipated in the state of Virginia. Francis Drake was the first African American to gain his freedom, in the City of Norfolk, after the Virginia General Assembly passed, “An Act to Allow the Manumission of Slaves” which allowed, “any person…to emancipate and set free, his or her slaves.” The 1782 act allowed slaves to be freed based off of the last will and testament or other writings of the slaveowner which could be proved by two other witnesses.

On May 23, 1782, a Deed for Manumission was granted to Francis Drake.

A historical marker deviated to Francis Drake was set in Norfolk, Virginia.

CSS Virginia, Fort Norfolk, Norfolk, Virginia, President George Washington

Fort Norfolk – The Last Of 19 Harbor-front Forts Authorized By President George Washington That Is Remaining

Fort Norfolk was one of 19 harbor front forts authorized to be constructed by General George Washington in 1794. Fort Norfolk was used to protect Virginia against the British in the War of 1812. In 1861, the Confederacy captured the fort to use it to supply the CSS Virginia (Merrimack) in a battle with the Union’s USS Monitor. In 1862, the Union recaptured Fort Norfolk. In the 1900s the Army Corps of Engineers obtained ownership of Fort Norfolk. In 1991, the Norfolk Historical Society restored Fort Norfolk and concerted the structure to a history musuem.