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Lee, Jarena (11 February 1783–after 1849), evangelist and spiritual autobiographer  

Barbara McCaskill

Lee, Jarena (11 February 1783–after 1849), evangelist and spiritual autobiographer, was born in Cape May, New Jersey. Although her birthplace stood in a free state, Cape May was entwined just enough by commerce and culture with Maryland’s Eastern Shore and Virginia’s northern borders that Lee probably was exposed at an early age to the inhumanities that characterized southern enslavement. The names and occupations of her parents are unknown. Details of her childhood and education are likewise sketchy. Both parents were free blacks, and poverty forced them to hire out their seven-year-old daughter as a domestic servant for a white family sixty miles away from home....