Cover

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Title Page, Copyright, Dedication

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pp. i-vi

Contents

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pp. vii-viii

Illustrations & Map

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pp. ix-xi

The Vaughan Family Tree

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pp. xii-xiv

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Introduction

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pp. 1-12

On a sticky June afternoon in 2002, I stood at the front door of an elegant home not far from the University of Ibadan, waiting to meet a woman whose grandparents, I had recently read, were “an Afro-Cherokee slave of Egba descent in North Carolina and a Benin princess.”1 I had come to Nigeria on different business, but I was intrigued by the American origins of this well-known local family. A friend helped me locate some of its members, and despite transportation difficulties, side trips, delays, and all...

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1 Scipio Vaughan’s South Carolina

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pp. 13-42

In 1840, a dying Scipio Vaughan gathered his family together and imparted his final wish: that they should leave South Carolina for Africa, the continent of their ancestors. Although he had spent most of his life as a slave, Scipio was by then a free man, proprietor of his own carpentry business, and owner of land and houses. His wife and their many children had never carried the burdens of slavery. They did not have to fear being sold away from one another, worked to death on a plantation, or abused by a master...

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2 Leaving Home

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pp. 43-75

The Joseph Maxwell rocked back and forth in the brisk November breeze while it sat at anchor just south of Wilmington, North Carolina. The three hundred-ton barque had arrived three days earlier, having been newly built in Baltimore and chartered by the American Colonization Society (ACS) to transport 150 settlers to Liberia.1 Now, on the morning of Monday, November 22, 1852, the sailing ship’s passengers were arriving. Within a few hours, Captain Joshua Ferrell would give the order and deckhands...

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3 The Love of Liberty

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pp. 76-107

Five months after Church Vaughan arrived in Liberia, in May 1853, settlers held an election. It had been six years since Liberia had become an independent republic, its constitution largely modeled on that of the United States except for a few key provisions. Slavery was illegal, for one thing, and only “Negroes or persons of Negro descent” were eligible for citizenship, property holding, or public office.1 Liberia’s president, Joseph J. Roberts, was a former free Virginian who had emigrated in the 1820s and built up a profitable...

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4 Troubled Times in Yorubaland

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pp. 108-143

Nothing in Church Vaughan’s background could have prepared him for the sensory intensity of landing in Lagos. He had traveled by steamer before, on a short hop along the North Carolina coast when he first left for Liberia. This time, Church and the Vai carpenter hired along with him spent a week as passengers on a British-owned steamship that regularly connected Europe and several stops along the West African coast, servicing international traders in palm oil and other commodities. Landing at the low-lying Lagos...

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5 Reconstructions

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pp. 144-179

In the hot July of 1869, more than a year after Church Vaughan sought refuge in Lagos, several small canvas bags arrived in Camden, South Carolina. They had traveled thousands of miles from the coast of West Africa to England, across the Atlantic, and through parts of the American South in the luggage of Rev. Andrew Phillips, who was returning to the United States from his missionary post in Lagos. Phillips carried them to Greenville, South Carolina when he visited his old Yorubaland comrade T. A. Reid at the...

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6 Vaughan’s Rebellion

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pp. 180-214

In March 1888, Church Vaughan, his sons, longtime fellow Baptists Sarah Harden and Moses Ladejo Stone, and several others convened a meeting to discuss their relationship to the Southern Baptist Church. For years they had endured slights and insults from its missionary William David; now he was insisting that he could treat one of their number, a popular preacher, practically as one of his servants. Yet one of the principles of Baptist organization was that ministers served their congregations, not the other...

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7 Afterlives

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pp. 215-236

“The Vaughan Family: A Tale of Two Continents,” featured in Ebony magazine in 1975, was conceived, researched, and written by Era Bell Thompson, the magazine’s longtime international editor and a veteran writer about Africa. “While other black families delve into genealogy in search of identity,” she wrote, “the descendants of Scipio [Vaughan] know who they were, where they are and enjoy each other’s company.”1 As the introduction to this book discussed, the Ebony story was a dramatic tale of African roots...

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Acknowledgments

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pp. 237-240

Writing a book about journeys and connections caused me to make many of my own. I began working on it as a fellow of the National Humanities Center, to whose donors and staff I give my earnest thanks and offer this belated evidence that I did in fact get something accomplished. Over successive years, I benefited from the American Council of Learned Societies’ Ryskamp Fellowship, the University of North Carolina’s Spray-Randleigh Fellowship, UNC’s Institute for the Arts and Humanities, the...

Notes

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pp. 241-280

Bibliography

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pp. 281-300

Index

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pp. 301-314