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Article-a-Day #59: Encyclopedia Virginia-Emanuel Driggus Free Black Man who was Enslaved and Restored Himself to Freedom

Emanuel Driggus was an enslaved man who restored freedom to himself and several members of his family. He exemplifies the possibilities and the limitations that free blacks encountered in seventeenth-century Virginia. Driggus gained his freedom sometime before 1661, and in the 1660s and 1670s integrated himself into the Eastern Shore’s agricultural economy as a horse breeder and tobacco planter. The last mention of Driggus in the Northampton County public records is reference to a debt of several hundred pounds of tobacco that he owed in 1685 to a recently deceased planter.