- Sarah J. Purcell
Ranger, Joseph (1760?–?), revolutionary war seaman, was born probably in Northumberland County, Virginia, to unknown parents. Ranger was a free African American, or perhaps a runaway slave, who probably worked as a seaman in Northumberland County and Elizabeth City County before the revolutionary war. In the early eighteenth century, Virginia’s waters were sailed extensively by free African Americans and slaves who also worked in the colony’s two shipyards. Despite long-standing concern among the elite in the South about arming even free African Americans for fear of inciting slave revolt, the maritime experiences of Virginia’s African Americans made them prime candidates for enlistment in the state navy (just as many African-American seamen served in the Continental navy)....