From Slave Ship to Harvard: Yarrow Mamout and the History of an African American Family

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Fordham Univ Press, 2012 - Biography & Autobiography - 302 pages
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The biography of a remarkable individual and the chronicle of a family's rise from slavery to winning the American dream.

From Slave Ship to Harvard is the true story of an African American family in Maryland over six generations. The author has reconstructed a unique narrative of black struggle and achievement from paintings, photographs, books, diaries, court records, legal documents, and oral histories. From Slave Ship to Harvard traces the family from the colonial period and the American Revolution through the Civil War to Harvard and finally today.

Yarrow Mamout, the first of the family in America, was an educated Muslim from Guinea. He was brought to Maryland on the slave ship Elijah and gained his freedom forty-four years later. By then, Yarrow had become so well known in the Georgetown section of Washington, D.C., that he attracted the attention of the eminent American portrait painter Charles Willson Peale, who captured Yarrow's visage in the painting that appears on the cover of this book. The author here reveals that Yarrow's immediate relatives-his sister, niece, wife, and son-were notable in their own right. His son married into the neighboring Turner family, and the farm community in western Maryland called Yarrowsburg was named for Yarrow Mamout's daughter-in-law, Mary "Polly" Turner Yarrow. The Turner line ultimately produced Robert Turner Ford, who graduated from Harvard University in 1927.

Just as Peale painted the portrait of Yarrow, James H. Johnston's new book puts a face on slavery and paints the history of race in Maryland. It is a different picture from what most of us imagine. Relationships between blacks and whites were far more complex, and the races more dependent on each other. Fortunately, as this one family's experience shows, individuals of both races repeatedly stepped forward to lessen divisions and to move America toward the diverse society of today.

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From Slave Ship to Harvard: Yarrow Mamout and the History of an African American Family

User Review  - Mark G. Spencer - Book Verdict

Born in 1736 in West Africa, Yarrow Mamout was enslaved, transported to America, and purchased by Marylander Samuel Beall in 1752. Freed in 1797, Yarrow accumulated sufficient capital to invest in ... Read full review


Yarrow Mamout a west African Muslim slave
Tobacco and the Importation of a Labor Force
welcome to America
slavery and Revolution
Yarrow of Georgetown
Peale Yarrow and Simpson
Aquilla Yarrow
Mary Polly Turner Yarrow
Aquilla and Polly in Pleasant Valley
Traces of Yarrow
unpleasant Valley
From Harvard to Today

Free Hannah Yarrows sister
Nancy llillman Yarrows Niece

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About the author (2012)

JAMES H. JOHNSTON, an attorney and journalist, has published extensively on national affairs, law, telecommunications, history, and the arts. His contributions include papers on local Washington, D.C., history, Yarrow Mamout, and an edition of The Recollections of Margaret Cabell Brown Loughborough.