The only thing we know for certain about Frank Lee is that he was William Lee's brother, purchased at the same time by George Washington and worked in the Mansion House listed by Washington as married to Lucy. His duties likely included being both a butler and waiter as occasions might demand, and for certain he was a close friend to his brother William. He too was a patriot, having an opportunity to flee Mount Vernon enslavement when the British forces raided the place but like the Hemings at Mount Vernon he remained loyal. Why? Many of Washington's slaves escaped and some even joined the British Ethiopian Regiment established to enlist escaped slaves.
We doubt that Frank enjoyed being enslaved but rather, like the Hemings offspring at Monticello, he and his brother William were family matters. Both Washington and Jefferson and others of their class and background understood this factor of loyalty. And, most Hemings and Lee descendents understand it when they take time to think what they would have done, if for example: a Sally and Robert Hemings living in Paris after the revolution or a Frank Lee at Mount Vernon during the revolution? Surely they understood freedom for themselves was not freedom for the people they loved: mothers and others.
We think it is critically important to understand that people of African heritage like William and Frank Lee or those normal beings at other locations did not want to be another human being's slave. The ante-bellum propaganda that raged throughout the 19th and 20th century that slaves were happy being such was no less denigrating than the earlier centuries wherein even popes, bishops and priests in the name of Christ: doubted that Africans hauled into slavery had souls. Oney Judge had the freedom to escape Mount Vernon slavery because she had neither chick, child or family members as reasons to remain as the personal maid to Martha Washington.
Like William, Frank was owned by George Washington but his wife was dowry property of Martha Washington and thus by law not eligible for freedom under George Washington's will?
We have tried to analyze available records in defining which Lee offspring at Mount Vernon were fathered by which of the two brothers; and, as might be expected William and Frank fathered children but apparently most, if not all Frank's offspring were destined to remain slaves as dowry property of Martha Washington. The absolutely most horrible aspect of chattel slavery was its peculiar insistence that offspring of enslaved mothers were the property of the mother's owner. Enslaved Black fathers had none of the rights or considerations granted to White men in matters of paternity and disposition or claims regarding offspring.
George Washington's compiled a listing of his slaves in 1786 in which he listed Will as not having a wife at one of his plantations; and listed Frank as having a wife named Lucy.
These relationships were determined by cross-reference to the 1810 Virginia census by family name; and making reference to the historical notes that following death of Washington and pursuant fears by Martha Washington that Washington's slaves might poison her to hasten their freedom, her nephew Bushrod Washington sent them away. We suspect that Bushrod was one of the founders or Virginia sponsors of the American Colonization Society or even planners that helped establish "Bushrod Island" in Liberia that received its first colonists (ex-slaves and freemen) in year 1822.
Research is still required to determine if any Lee descendents were among the emigrants to Liberia, and if so, were they there as Baptists or Episcopalians as we believe William and Frank were likely identified with? The challenge and issue is significant in understanding the aspects of geography and timelines in understanding the evolvement of African-American families.
Monrovia (Liberia), city in western Liberia, capital of the country, on the Atlantic Ocean, at the mouth of the Saint Paul River. Situated on Bushrod Island and Cape Mesurado, it is the nation's chief port and commercial center. It has extensive docks and is served by nearby Roberts International Airport. Iron ore and rubber are major exports; substantial quantities of imports are transshipped to neighboring countries. Manufactures include processed food, refined petroleum, chemicals, pharmaceuticals, and building materials.
The University of Liberia (founded in 1862), Cuttington University College (1889), and a college of technology (1978) are here. Monrovia was founded in 1822 by the American Colonization Society as a refuge for freed slaves from North America; it was named in honor of United States president James Monroe. Large numbers of former slaves were resettled here in the 19th century. Monrovia became the scene of widespread looting and violence in the civil war following Liberian leader Samuel K. Doe's assassination in 1990; fighting among factions continued in the mid-1990s, sending many residents from the city. Population (1984) 421,058. "Monrovia (Liberia)," Microsoft® Encarta® Encyclopedia 99.
It is also a fact the Custis Estate had plantations in and around Richmond where the emancipated Lee men and women could have found employment. Indicators are that Lucy and at least seven (7) of her children, grandchildren or offspring of her brother-in-law William were living free as adult heads of household in and between Fredericksburg and Richmond, Virginia.
Below research acquired via George Washington and
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