This Day (Looking for an Island Edition)

Published:September 6, 2012 by Brendan Wolfe

On this day in 1663, nine indentured servants were set to meet at a place called Poplar Spring in Gloucester County, each bringing what weapons he could scavenge or steal. The idea was to rise in rebellion, “marching from house to house,” as one man put it, with their ultimate destination being the Green Spring mansion of Governor Sir William BerkeleyThomas Collins told authorities that, with weapons brandished, they would make clear to Berkeley their “desire to bee released of one year of their tyme w’ch they had to serve,” and, should the governor refuse, “that then they would goe forth of ye Land if they Could to an Island.” (Wouldn’t we all like to do that?) Anyway, as is usual in these cases, all did not go as planned. A servant named Birkenhead betrayed them, a number were arrested, and four were hanged. It was an ugly business, although in 1898 the novelist Mary Johnston transformed it into a romantic adventure story: Prisoners of Hope.

Before we go, a big happy birthday to Julien Green, who was born on this day in 1900. A novelist and graduate of the University of Virginia, Green was the first non-French national to be accepted as a member of the prestigious Académie Française, the self-described “guardians of the French language.”

Well, la-dee-da! (Is that French?)

IMAGES: Prisoners of Hope by Mary Johnston (1898); Julien Green portrait, 1933, by Carl Van Vechten