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Book details
  • Genre:HISTORY
  • SubGenre:United States / 19th Century
  • Language:English
  • Pages:222
  • Paperback ISBN:9781543951158


From Slavery to Inspiration

by Jesse Russell

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Juliet, a slave in Virginia is freed, along with her family in the will of her former owner, only to later discover that the will that provided for her freedom would be contested and lead to an 8 year long court battle from 1848-1856, ending with Juliet, her family and others being sold to the highest bidder. Juliet's amazing journey continues with successive generations and culminating in her great granddaughter becoming the first African American woman to graduate in 1916 from the University of Pittsburgh School of Pharmacy and being the first to practice in Pennsylvania as well as the first licensed African American woman to practice in the United States. Her achievements did not end there. This great granddaughter, Ella Phillips Stewart, dined in her home with W.E.B. Dubois, became president of the National Association of Colored Women, served in the Eisenhower administration, spent 6 years traveling the world with UNESCO and garnered National, State and local awards too numerous to mention. This is a story of struggle, perseverance and inspiration. Written as a historical novel based on actual events and actual persons, the reader is guaranteed to be both entertained and enlightened.
"Juliet - From Slavery to Inspiration" is a book that will make you cry and make you cheer. Freed in her former owner's will in 1848, Juliet discovers that the old man's son and his siblings have presented to the court an Articles of Agreement that revoked Juliet and her family's freedom. In a court trial titled "Bennett Russell and Others vs. Negroes Juliet and Others" Juliet is hired out for 8 long years while the court battle raged for what seemed a lifetime to Juliet. Represented by a local attorney named Richard E. Parker, Jr., he was able to place enough doubt in the mind's of the slave owning jurors where they could not come to a unanimous decision as to the validity of the Articles of Agreement that attempted to revoke the freedom of Juliet, her family and others. But Parker would not remain Juliet's attorney longer than 3 years. In 1851, the presiding judge died and Parker was was appointed as the judge in the very court Juliet sought her freedom. Parker would later be remembered as the presiding judge in the trial of John Brown in 1859. In 1856, the jury finally rendered a verdict accepting the Articles of Agreement as the last will and testament. Juliet and her entire family were sold to the highest bidder in the same year. Juliet was never heard from again, but her journey was continued by her daughter Harriet who spent her entire life with the grandson of the man who had first enslaved Juliet and then tried to free her in his will. Harriet and her two children had been purchased at the auction by Bennett Russell's sister who knowingly or not, had purchased her own daughter in law (although interracial marriage was illegal until 1967 in Virginia) and grandchildren. From this union between a white man and a slave, until the end of the civil war, would produce a grandchild named Ella Phillips Stewart who would become the first African American woman to graduate in 1916 at the University of Pittsburgh School of Pharmacy and become not only one of the first licensed African American women to practice pharmacy in the United States. She would go on to serve in the Eisenhower administration and serve 6 years as an educational and cultural representative of UNESCO, traveling to many parts of the world. This historical novel is based on actual events, actual persons and will entertain, enlighten and INSPIRE all who read it.
About the author
The author is retired and living in the Shenandoah Valley, Virginia. He has written numerous historical accounts of families in his native Clarke County, Virginia, but the book "Juliet - From Slavery to Inspiration is his first book. He grew up in Clarke County, graduated from Massanutten Military Academy, served 3 years in the Army and received a degree in Political Science from James Madison University. What began as research on his own family that he became intrigued with a slave woman named Juliet who along with her family had been freed by his third great grandfather, only to find that his second great grandfather challenge the manumission clause in his father's will that led to an 8 year long court trial ending with the auction of Juliet and her family. What he discovered was an astonishing truth that led to his recent reunion with the descendants of Juliet and the incredible achievements of her great granddaughter renown as one of our country's African American pioneers.