The story of Ona Judge, an enslaved woman who fled George Washington’s Mount Vernon in 1796 and remained free for the rest of her long life is widely known, particularly since the recent publication of Erica Armstrong Dunbar’s Never Caught (New York, 2019). But Judge was only one of many enslaved women who attempted to escape bondage and experience a lifetime of liberty during the latter half of the eighteenth century. In this insightful study, Bell uncovers the traces and contextualizes the experiences of hundreds of women who took advantage of warfare and other disruptions to seek their freedom, contradicting the long-held belief that physical and social factors prevented female slaves from doing so.

For decades, historians of slavery have assumed that enslaved women had fewer opportunities to escape than did their male counterparts, having closer ties to their children and being less likely to be assigned work that took...

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