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Remembering the Contraband and their Descendants

May 26 @ 7:00 pm - 8:30 pm

The Contraband Decision was the first successful action by the US Government which signaled the beginning of the end of slavery. The historic Chapel of the Centurion at Fort Monroe, the Contraband Historical Society will bring together local “Contraband” descendants with a 3rd-great-grandson of Major General Benjamin Butler. The Society annually commemorates this date in 1861, when local enslaved men Frank Baker, Shepard Mallory and James Townsend fled to Fort Monroe and requested asylum. Their actions inspired Butler to make a bold decision that day, to grant them sanctuary. As a result, Fort Monroe and Hampton became a haven for thousands of runaways in their fight for self-emancipation during the Civil War. The Annual Commemoration of the 18691 Contraband Decision ceremony features a presentation on Harry Jarvis, contraband and solider, and concludes with a candlelight procession.


The “Contraband Decision” of 1861 at Fort Monroe will be commemorated through a series of events and tours in May 24-26, 2024. The events are presented by the Contraband Historical Society, Fort Monroe Authority, Fort Monroe National Monument and the Hampton History Museum. See FortMonroe.org or VisitHampton.com for more information as available.


May 26
7:00 pm - 8:30 pm
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fort monroe


Fort Monroe
20 Ingalls Road
Fort Monroe, VA 23651
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