The Great Dismal Swamp's Legacy As A Refuge For Runaway Slaves

Dec 29, 2016

Great Dismal Swamp
Credit U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service

For more than a century before the Civil War, escaped slaves used the thick and shadowy brush of the Great Dismal Swamp as a hideout.

The Great Dismal Swamp stretches for thousands of acres across the northeastern corner of North Carolina and into Virginia. Escaped slaves ventured into the swampy and treacherous terrain to form resistance settlements called "maroon" communities. Archeologist Dan Sayers has traveled to the Great Dismal Swamp for more than a decade researching the area's history as a refuge for runaway slaves. Sayers highlights his work in his book "A Desolate Place for a Defiant People: The Archaeology of Maroons, Indigenous Americans, and Enslaves Laborers in the Great Dismal Swamp" (University Press of Florida/2014). Host Frank Stasio talks with Sayers, associate professor of anthropology at American University, about the swamp's landscape and its history as a hideout.