Come August, Come Freedom
Gabriel is born into slavery in Virginia during the American Revolution. He is raised on Prosser’s plantation and then sent to Richmond to learn blacksmithing. He falls in love with a slave from a neighboring estate, but, due to his headstrong immaturity, lands in a situation that delays his marriage. As Gabriel grows to manhood, he is inspired by the slave revolt in Haiti, and initiates an uprising. Even though the revolt is doomed from the start, Gabriel’s story highlights an important but little-known episode in American history.
The book contains transcriptions of what appear to be real historical documents. While they interrupt the text and are sometimes confusing, they do add richness and dimension to the story. The book needs an author’s historical note and a resource list. Without them there is no way for the reader to know what is fact and what is fiction, although a quick online search for “Gabriel Prosser” provides the information. Amateau’s prose is lyrical, portraying the lush Virginia countryside in post-Revolutionary times. Gabriel’s characterization may seem a little flat to some, but as a freedom fighter who devoted his life to the cause of liberty, he was one of early America’s true heroes. He deserves more attention than history has given him.