*Richmond. Capital city of Virginia, located in plantation country on the James River. At the time in which this novel is set, Richmond has a population of around six thousand people, with scattered shops, a notary’s office, a jail, a public watering trough, hitching bars for horses, and huge oak trees for shade. Horses, coaches, and slaves on errands for their owners travel the unpaved streets, while barefoot women with baskets on their heads stride along the footpaths. The town has a dancing school for white children and a printer’s shop, both run by Frenchmen, in which political liberty is a frequent topic of conversation. The surrounding peninsula between the James and York Rivers consists of swamps and meandering creeks that rainstorms can suddenly transform into raging, impassable torrents.
Creuzot’s printshop. Richmond gathering place for supporters of the French Revolution. Its owner, Monsieur Creuzot, a French Jacobin, is labeled as a radical, along with Alexander Biddenhurst of Philadelphia, who advocates a classless society. Overhearing the “strange music” of their conversation about “liberty, equality and fraternity,” the slave Gabriel, who is the coachman for a man named Prosser, becomes bewitched by the idea of freedom. He rallies the slaves who are angry about their fellow slave Bundy’s death at Prosser’s hands, and takes charge as “general” of an...
(The entire section is 564 words.)