Previously on The Book of Negroes...
My name is Samuel Frances, but you can call me Black Sam.
Oh! It's w*r now, and we shall have freedom!
If you escape now, Lindo won't have time to hunt you down.
What will you do now that you are free of Lindo?
I will stay among the Negroes there.
You know this man?
Sam was a friend when I needed one.
The British promise liberty. I will fight for my freedom like any man.
The British just surrendered in Yorktown.
Solomon Lindo will be coming back for you.
(cheering and whistling)
Rebels exalted over the British surrender, but for those who had taken our freedom back, the peace treaty spelled disaster.
American slaveholders and their agents prowled Manhattan, grabbing fugitives whenever they could.
My thoughts went to Solomon Lindo.
Would he return to New York to try to claim me and take me back to Charleston?
"All prisoners on both sides shall be set at liberty and His Britannic Majesty shall, with all convenient speed and without causing any destruction or carrying away... any Negroes, or other property of American inhabitants, withdraw all his armies, garrison, and fleets from the said United States."
Uh, Miss Mina? What do "carry away any Negroes or other property" mean?
Black folks helped the British.
We up and fought and d*ed for them.
It means the Americans are free to re-enslave runaway slaves.
What did I tell you about the British?
Bounty hunters be all over the city, snatching Negroes, dragging them down South.
It's downright dangerous now to be in New York.
And even more dangerous to leave.
I am a freeborn woman, but most of us be runaway slaves.
No Racine plantation owner is gonna separate me from my kinfolk.
General Washington gave the Redcoats until the end of November to evacuate.
Now, New York is the only place still occupied by the British.
Until they leave completely, you will still have some protection.
No. Let's protect ourselves, protect our families.
Let's set up patrols, look out for intruders, white or black.
This is what we must do.
Off to Sam's tavern?
No. I'm going to Holy Ground.
There's a woman there in need.
I will come with you.
There's no need for that.
Kidnappers are everywhere.
I saw two white men lurking around last night.
Bounty hunters, I suspect.
Everyone knows me in Holy Ground.
I'll be fine.
Make sure you're back before nightfall.
I will. I'll be fine.
Let me go!
Where are your freedom papers?
You can come with us polite, or we can make it hard on you.
Let her go or I sh**t.
The next one will go straight into your brain.
I am authorised to pick up runaway slaves.
And I'm authorised to sh**t.
Let her go now.
You heard the man.
Are you all right, Miss Diallo?
I'll be all right.
I went looking for you in Canvas Town.
I was told you were here, in Holy Ground.
I no longer work for you, Lieutenant Waters.
It is not what you think.
My captain would like to meet the famous One-Pound Mina.
I've been meaning to meet you for some time.
Thank you, lieutenant. You may go.
Do you have your freedom?
I have been free in New York for eight years now.
They tell me that you can read and write, keep ledgers, and that you speak two African languages.
Are you familiar with section seven of the provisional peace treaty?
I've taught it to half of Canvas Town.
The Negroes feel betrayed by it.
But if they served for the British for one year minimum, then they've already been liberated.
Do the British aim to keep their promise to the Negroes?
Our Navy plans to move all n*gro Loyalists to Nova Scotia, where they will be free.
Nova Scotia? Not London?
Nova Scotia's a British colony.
In this Nova Scotia, will we be free?
But before long, there will be hard work.
The Negroes will be given land and expected to farm it.
Why have you brought me here, Captain Clarkson?
Miss Diallo, I want you to spread the word among your people.
We need help to register the Negroes.
I'd like to engage you, if you agree, to collect names and ages and how they came to serve the British.
We need to know how many wish to travel, and we need to begin embarkations almost immediately.
If you agree, you'll be paid one pound a week in silver.
There will be constant work and all the information will be kept in a ledger.
What will this ledger be called?
The Book of Negroes.
I do want to go to this Nova Scotia. With my husband.
Consider passage guaranteed for the two of you.
You have my word, Miss Diallo.
Then I accept.
And I would like a map of Africa.
Your maps are terrible.
Thank you, Miss Diallo. Thank you.
Tell me again about this book that gonna have our names in.
The Book of Negroes.
(laughing) She already done told you three times! Stop pestering her!
I'm just asking! I didn't know there was a book big enough to have every n*gro in New York in!
Oh, Miss Mina...
Why don't you tell us how about how you come to know your man, Chekura?
Yes, Miss Mina.
When did you first encounter Chekura?
I met Chekura when I was a little girl in Africa.
When I was a little girl, the man-stealers would come and take many Negroes from many villages, Fula, Bamana, didn't matter who. One night, they took me.
I met Chekura on the long walk to the sea.
I helped the man-stealers take the Africans.
This is how we came to meet.
You helped them... steal Miss Mina from her kin?
He was kind to me.
He was my companion.
After the British surrendered, sl*ve owners began to prowl Canvas Town.
What is it? What? What is it?
They took Claybourne!
Where's Claybourne? Where's Claybourne?
I will do what I can Miss Diallo.
Sir, I am Lieutenant Waters for His Majesty's Army.
Do you have one Claybourne Mitchell on board?
What business is that of yours?
Claybourne Mitchell volunteered with my regiment for two years.
Per the articles of peace, any n*gro who serves His Majesty's Army for one year has won his liberty.
He's a free man.
Well, go ahead and fetch him.
Sir, the w*r is over, and we have a treaty signed by your Congress.
That bark is legally owned by my employer, Mister, um, Sam Stephens of Georgia.
He escaped the 13th, but we got him now.
He fought for his freedom. You have no right to hold him c*ptive.
You speak to me again, n*gg*r, and I will k*ll you where you stand!
Ahem! Good day.
I want on the boat. I want to leave with him.
You sellin' yourself with a kid? It's too bad Mr. Stephens's got all the n*gg*r wives he needs.
At least let me say goodbye to him.
You still wear that sword on your hip like you were conquering this country.
Surrender that sword.
I spent four years hunting cowardly Redcoats like yourself.
That n*gg*r k*lled good patriots.
He deserves what's coming.
Bring him up.
You got one minute to say what you gotta say.
You done gone and got yourself caught.
Looks that way.
Listen, I want you and Sarah to go to Nova Scotia, you hear me?
You shut your drawbridge mouth.
Me, you, and Sarah, we is family now.
You listen to me.
I want you to go see Freddie.
He owe me one pound. You make sure you get that money from him for you and the baby, you hear what I'm sayin'? You understand?
You get it from him your damn self.
If I could tell you nothing, know how hard...
Sarah? Come hug your daddy.
Mama gonna take care of you.
Mama gonna take care of you.
You hear me? You gonna go with your mama!
That's enough now!
All right, all right!
Y'all go on! Get!
I'm gonna be all right.
Y'all go on!
Get him down!
We is family!
It all gonna be all right!
I will be all right.
We is family.
Gonna be all right.
(people laughing and talking)
I'm going to help Sam cater a conference hosted by General Washington.
South river, in Tappan.
General Washington is hosting British General Guy Carleton to discuss the British withdrawal from New York.
How long will you be gone away?
I'll be back in the morning.
I will see you in the morning.
Guy Carleton and George Washington met to discuss the British withdrawal.
Washington was angry that the British were evacuating Negroes.
A speedy evacuation of all His Majesty's armies, garrison and fleets from New York is actively under way, supervised by Captain Clarkson.
As agreed upon, by the end of November.
As agreed upon, sir.
On the matter of delivery of all Negroes and other property back to the inhabitants of these United States, how soon will that transpire?
Our Navy has already embarked refugees of all colors to Nova Scotia.
Hmm, some Negroes were among the refugees, yes.
Well, some of these Negroes are property of the inhabitants of these United States and should not have been carried off.
Your action violates article seven in the articles of peace.
General, with respect, Negroes who responded to British proclamations of liberty are no longer American property.
With these proclamations, a number of my own slaves, slaves of members of Congress, of officers in this very room, abandoned their masters.
The carrying off of Negroes is a clear infraction.
Infraction? Well, if declared as such by our respective sovereigns, compensation will be made by the Crown to owners, including those in this room.
In what manner?
I have taken measures to create a register of evacuated Negroes, classifying the name, age and occupation of each person as well as the name and place of his former master.
It's impossible to ascertain the value of the slaves through any facts which you may find in such a register.
A further difficulty would be identifying the slaves' true identity, supposing the sl*ve gave a false name for his master.
I must confess, General, the mere supposition that I, the King's Minister, would breach the public faith towards people of any complexion seems to denote a less than friendly disposition.
I'm afraid we must leave this with our respective sovereigns. The... dinner that Black Sam has so generously prepared is ready.
General Washington was none too happy.
The British may have lost on the field of battle, but their General Carleton has won the peace with his Book of Negroes plan.
The Negroes will have a chance at liberty.
You as well, Mina.
I love Chekura very much, Sam.
Forgive me for bringing you to this place.
There's nothing to forgive.
Miss Diallo, this is the ledger, in which you'll record the names of the n*gro Loyalists.
Good morning, miss. Tell me your name and your age.
My name is Emily.
I think I'm 23 or 24, I don't know for sure. This my baby Janice.
She four months.
Where's the baby's father?
He d*ad. The Americans, they k*ll him fighting with the British.
Do you have a last name?
No, just Emily. But my owner was Mr. John Smith, but I runs away from him six years ago from Charlestown. Come to New York by boat.
How did you serve the British Army?
I worked in Holy Ground.
What did you do in Holy Ground?
I performed various services for the British Army.
Certain officers, when they were on leave, would come to me 'cause they say I gave special service, different from the other girls.
I have general birth certificate.
Just write 'lusty wench'. Go ahead, we have no time to waste.
Thank you, Miss Emily. Thank you for telling me your story.
I am meeting people from places I have never heard of!
You have become our diary, recording our stories.
They're giving me something.
They're letting me know that I'm not alone.
That we are not alone.
Our baby will be born in March in Nova Scotia.
John Cartwright, born 1719, Virginia.
I deserted the rebel standard.
That was service enough.
I was born a sl*ve, but I will die free.
Uh, Joe Mason.
I be 25 years old.
My wife and my daughter drowned crossing the Santee River while we run away from Samuel Ash.
Got a plantation down there in Edisto, South Carolina.
I worked as a blacksmith for the King's Army.
From April to November, I helped register thousands of Blacks who were leaving New York. Some went as slaves of British officers, but others traveled free.
They had been promised land and tools to break the land and provisions on which to live until they could enjoy the fruit of their farming in Nova Scotia. I wrote names in the Book of Negroes, recording how people had got their freedom, how old they were, and where they had been born.
South Carolina, Virginia, Madagascar, Angola, and Bonny.
People watched the movement of my hand as I wrote their names and made me read them aloud once I was done.
The work left me weary, but it excited me to imagine that, fifty years later, someone might find an ancestor in the Book of Negroes and say, "That was my grandmother".
So the nuns called me. I didn't have a mother or father.
I picked up arms and fought with the British when the Americans started the fight.
I have a wooden leg now.
Lost it in Brooklyn Heights fighting them rebels, and k*lled me many an American. Now I's free.
I want me my own land in this here Nova Scotia.
Sarah is my name.
I be 42 years old.
Got blind mixing lye for soap. An expl*si*n went off.
Man one foot over was handing me his red coat, telling me to wash it soft and gentle.
k*lled him lickety-split, so I reckon I was lucky.
I know worse trouble, though.
May I have your name, miss?
My name Aminata.
My mama Sanu said I was born on a sl*ve ship going to South Carolina.
Where is your mother now?
d*ed two years ago. Got sh*t up while nursing the British.
Dear God, girl!
I am Aminata too!
I caught you! I caught you coming out of your mother on that sl*ve ship!
She named you after me!
She named you after me!
My mama told me all about you!
She spoke of you a thousand times!
Look at you.
You are Sanu's daughter.
I can't keep my family waiting any longer.
I leave for London in the morning.
Well done, Miss Diallo. And my ship?
When can I leave with my husband?
Your tickets for the Joseph, departing November the 7th for Annapolis Royal.
Oh, do please write to me in London.
Here. I'm so curious to hear how the n*gro Loyalists fare in Nova Scotia.
Thank you, Captain.
Drop Claybourne's name and the name of his master in the fishnet when you get to Georgia. Someone will know where they took him.
You have a good man here, Miss Mina.
You hold on to him.
Ain't no patriot gonna bust up me and Claybourne.
He better know to stay alive till me and Sarah find him.
I have secured tickets from Captain Clarkson.
For Nova Scotia.
Two tickets: one for you and Sarah, and one is for Claybourne.
The last ship leaves from New York to Nova Scotia on November 30th.
Thank you for going through the trouble, Miss Mina.
I don't got much.
We're still young, though.
I'm gonna do what I have to to win my man's freedom.
This should help you buy his freedom.
I'll pay you back every penny, Mr. Fraunces, you hear?
I ain't gonna let this child grow up without knowing her daddy.
We can spread the word for Claybourne in Nova Scotia, Bertilda. He's smart and...
I was born in these colonies and this is where I'm gonna die.
I be American, Miss Mina.
I be American.
When George Washington and his men rode into New York to meet his aides and celebrate the rebel victory, it k*lled the hope in those of us left behind.
If we didn't get out soon, we would be re-enslaved and might never get out again.
Nine days ago, the last of the British Army left American soil, and we have truly won our revolution.
(all): Hear, hear!
I must, however, bid you all farewell.
I intend on commencing a journey this day to Annapolis, where I will resign my commission.
It is with a heart filled with love and gratitude that I now take my leave of you.
I most devoutly wish that your latter days may be as prosperous and happy as your former ones have been glorious and honorable.
(all): Hear, hear.
Please forgive the intrusion.
Do you think the n*gro will one day have his freedom like the Americans?
I can foresee that nothing but the rooting out of sl*very will perpetuate the existence of our Union.
Then, General, why do you own slaves?
Here is your hat and coat, General.
I'm afraid the General must be on his way.
Thank you for your help, Sam.
Safe travels, Miss Diallo.
You're a good friend, Sam.
I am Aminata Diallo and this is my husband, Chekura Tiano.
Return here, please.
Aminata Diallo, there's a claim against you, we cannot allow you to leave. Go with these men.
There will be no discussion.
I have a certificate from General Birch. I have worked for the English for years, from April up until a week ago! I was working on this very document, the Book of Negroes, under Captain Clarkson!
You'll be allowed to respond to the allegations of your claimant.
Gentlemen, remove this woman.
It's Lindo. Lindo has made a claim on me!
I am her husband and I go with her.
Now look here, boy.
If you get off this ship, you will board no other.
If she prevails over her claimant, she may board another vessel. But if you leave this ship, you stay in New York. I will see to that.
No, I will not leave.
I will not leave you.
It's the only way.
Canvas Town, at once had been a fountain of life.
Now, after the British evacuation, it was like a ghost town, with just a few handfuls of dispirited folks.
State your name.
Are you a runaway sl*ve?
I was once a man's property, but now I am free, like the Americans.
No, you're a runaway sl*ve from South Carolina.
A claim has been made against you.
Bring in the claimant.
Mina, it's been too long.
How dare you.
Your Honor, I own this woman.
She was loaned out to a Mr. Solomon Lindo, of Charleston, and this same Mr. Solomon Lindo absconded with my property and then she ran away in New York City.
This, sir, indicates that I purchased this woman from a Mr. William King in 1761.
What is your response to this?
That part is true, but I was sold to Solomon Lindo in 1773.
Mr. Lindo manumitted me in 1775.
So where are your manumission papers?
I've lost them.
She lost them, Your Honor.
I did not lose my documents.
Right there is proof of ownership.
Miss Diallo, have you anything else to say for yourself?
Sir, if I may have a moment of the Court's time?
Mr. Fraunces, have you something to contribute to this process?
You know me to be an upstanding businessman.
Your reputation is steady.
Now, I must ask for a brief delay of two hours.
I am obtaining proof on behalf of this woman.
You're coming home with me, Mina. Coming home.
Did you think that I wouldn't find you?
What do you want?
To own you. And that child you're carrying.
You're my property.
I am no man's property.
I am a free woman.
Negroes do not understand the meaning of that word.
If they did, they would not help bring their own people here.
Now, true Americans know what liberty is.
I fought the British and I've got a...
I've got a crippled leg now to show for that.
Remember the big house?
You could've been up there close to me.
But you went and you let an African impregnate you.
He has great honor.
You have none.
I sold your child, Mina.
Only got a few pounds for her.
No man could sell my child.
I would hunt him down to the ends of the earth until I k*lled him.
What did your boy do?
What kind of man is that?
That's a sl*ve, Mina.
The justice of the peace has called the court back in session, sir.
I love that sl*ve.
Miss Diallo, Mr. Fraunces has not returned with any evidence of your claim of freedom.
Mr. Fraunces... said he would return, and he shall.
Miss Diallo, do you have any evidence to substantiate your claim of freedom?
I ask Your Honor for more time.
With all due respect, Your Honor, I ask you to uphold the rule of the law and return my property to me.
Miss Diallo, as you can see, I've got three more cases.
I'm afraid I can no longer wait, I...
Ah, Mr. Fraunces.
Have you made any progress, sir?
Yes, sir, I have.
I present to you Mr. Solomon Lindo.
What stake have you in this case?
This man, Mr. Appleby, sold Mina D. to me in 1773.
He does not own her. I do. Shall I show you proof?
It's been a long day, Mr. Lindo.
Just read it out.
"Bill of sale between Robinson Appleby, of St. Helena Island, and Solomon Lindo, of Charleston. Terms of sale of Mina, a Guinea wench".
Will that suffice, sir?
"Solomon Lindo agrees to purchase said wench, Mina, for sixty pounds sterling, and arrange the sale of May, daughter of Mina. Said sale to be effected in Savannah, Georgia, with terms suitable to Robinson Appleby and Mr. Lindo."
I did this, but I sought to place the child in a caring family.
Mr. Appleby, would you care to reply?
I have nothing to say to him.
Hand me the contract.
This court is adjourned until tomorrow morning.
I will evaluate the contract and render my decision about this matter then.
Until then, you will be kept in chains.
Mina, may I have a word?
I have nothing to say to you.
Appleby was determined to sell your baby to an owner and you to another.
What happened to my baby?
From what I know, she d*ed young.
If you knew it meant selling away my baby, why did you do that to us?
You are no Hebrew.
I will no longer think of you.
I have looked over the contract between Mr. Appleby and Mr. Lindo.
Mr. Appleby, you have no honor.
You have one day to get out of New York.
Mr. Lindo, you may take your property.
She's not my property.
I wish Mina to be free.
You're manumitting your sl*ve?
It's a matter of making peace with my past.
I'm marking her down here as free. Set this woman loose.
Aminata, I'm sorry.
For your journey. Crab cakes.
Ohh, crab cakes!
Cheese, two loaves of bread...
Fresh apples, and some beer.
I don't know how to repay you.
Freedom will come to every n*gro in America.
It will take some time, but one day, the Declaration of Independence will live up to its creed.
Our new country will be called the United States of America.
What's so united about it?
There's nothing united about a nation that declares all men are created equal, but keeps its people in chains.
I'm going to stay here and work on that.
And will I live to see it?
Are you sure you don't want to stay in these United States?
I could use your help.
No, Sam, no.
It is time for me to leave this new country.
My husband awaits me in Nova Scotia.
General Washington has offered me a job in his residence as head cook.
Mount Vernon, Virginia. I took it.
I'm going to close the tavern.
You are a true American.
And the Americans will prove to be the better people.
I will take my chances with the British.
Will I ever see you again, Aminata Diallo?
I had lost my belongings, but I was going to see my husband.
I had my legs, which were still in working order, and a child growing in my belly.
I wonder what will dawn bright in Nova Scotia.
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01x04 - Episode 4
Episode transcripts of the TV mini-series, "The Book of Negroes" . Aired February 2015.
Kidnapped in Africa and subsequently enslaved in South Carolina, Aminata must navigate a revolution in New York, isolation in Nova Scotia and treacherous jungles of Sierra Leone, in an attempt to secure her freedom in the 19th century.
1 post • Page 1 of 1
1 post • Page 1 of 1