Aiming for Pensacola
Matthew J. Clavin Harvard University Press, 2015 Library of Congress E450.C55 2015 | Dewey Decimal 305.800975999
Before the Civil War, slaves who managed to escape almost always made their way northward along the Underground Railroad. Matthew Clavin recovers the story of fugitive slaves who sought freedom by paradoxically sojourning deeper into the American South toward an unlikely destination: the small seaport of Pensacola, Florida, a gateway to freedom.
In this remarkable testimony, Cuban novelist and anthropologist Miguel Barnet presents the narrative of 105-year-old Esteban Montejo, who lived as a slave, as fugitive in the wilderness, and as a soldier in the Cuban War of Independence. Honest, blunt, compassionate, shrewd, and engaging, his voice provides an extraordinary insight into the African culture that took root in the Caribbean.
Originally published in 1966, Miguel Barnet’s Biography of a Runaway Slave provides the written history of the life of Esteban Montejo, who lived as a slave, as a fugitive in the wilderness, and as a soldier fighting against Spain in the Cuban War of Independence. A new introduction by one of the most preeminent Afro-Hispanic scholars, William Luis, situates Barnet’s ethnographic strategy and lyrical narrative style as foundational for the tradition of testimonial fiction in Latin American literature. Barnet recorded his interviews with the 103-year-old Montejo at the onset of the Cuban Revolution. This insurgent’s history allows the reader into the folklore and cultural history of Afro-Cubans before and after the abolition of slavery. The book serves as an important contribution to the archive of black experience in Cuba and as a reminder of the many ways that the present continues to echo the past.
The Cana Sanctuary uses the collective testimony from more than two hundred Patriot War claims, previously believed to have been destroyed, to offer insight into the lesser-known Patriot War of 1812 and to constitute an intellectual history of everyday people caught in the path of an expanding American empire.
In the late seventeenth century a group of about a dozen escaped African slaves from the English colony of Carolina reached the Spanish settlement of St. Augustine. In a diplomatic bid for sanctuary, to avoid extradition and punishment, they requested the sacrament of Catholic baptism from the Spanish Catholic Church. Their negotiations brought about their baptism and with it their liberation. The Cana Sanctuary focuses on what author Frank Marotti terms “folk diplomacy”—political actions conducted by marginalized, non-state sectors of society—in this instance by formerly enslaved African Americans in antebellum East Florida. The book explores the unexpected transformations that occurred in seventeenth- and eighteenth-century St. Augustine as more and more ex-slaves arrived to find their previously disregarded civil rights upheld under sacred codes by an international, nongovernmental, authoritative organization.
With the Catholic Church acting as an equalizing, empowering force for escaped African slaves, the Spanish religious sanctuary policy became part of popular historical consciousness in East Florida. As such, it allowed for continual confrontations between the law of the Church and the law of the South. Tensions like these survived, ultimately lending themselves to an “Afro-Catholicism” sentiment that offered support for antislavery arguments.
On July 4th, 1842, Caroline Quarlls left family, friends, and the only life she'd known behind in St. Louis, Missouri. As the child of a slave mother and a slave-owner father, her young life was one of drudgery and obedience until that fateful Independence Day when she illegally took a steamboat across the Mississippi River from St. Louis to Alton, Illinois, in the hope of reaching freedom.
With the help of abolitionists, the 16-year-old traveled through Illinois, Wisconsin, Indiana, and Michigan on the Underground Railroad, enduring long, bumpy rides in the bottom of a wagon and taking cover in everything from barrels to potato chutes. Each step of the way, Quarlls was pursued by lawyers paid to retrieve her and bounty hunters greedy for the reward money. Finally, she crossed from Detroit into Sandwich, Canada, where created a new life as a free woman, an exciting but also frightening, experience. Quarlls' story gives young readers a personal snapshot of the tension-filled journey of a runaway slave while illuminating a segment of the complicated history of race in our nation.
During the long decade from 1848 to 1861 America was like a train speeding down the track, without an engineer or brakes. The new territories acquired from Mexico had vastly increased the size of the nation, but debate over their status—and more importantly the status of slavery within them—paralyzed the nation. Southerners gained access to the territories and a draconian fugitive slave law in the Compromise of 1850, but this only exacerbated sectional tensions. Virtually all northerners, even those who supported the law because they believed that it would preserve the union, despised being turned into slave catchers. In 1854, in the Kansas-Nebraska Act, Congress repealed the ban on slavery in the remaining unorganized territories. In 1857, in the Dred Scott case, the Supreme Court held that all bans on slavery in the territories were unconstitutional. Meanwhile, northern whites, free blacks, and fugitive slaves resisted the enforcement of the 1850 fugitive slave law. In Congress members carried weapons and Representative Preston Brooks assaulted Senator Charles Sumner with a cane, nearly killing him. This was the decade of the 1850s and these were the issues Congress grappled with.
This volume of new essays examines many of these issues, helping us better understand the failure of political leadership in the decade that led to the Civil War.
Spencer R. Crew
Amy S. Greenberg
Martin J. Hershock
Michael F. Holt
Brooks D. Simpson
Margaret Garner was the runaway slave who, when confronted with capture just outside of Cincinnati, slit the throat of her toddler daughter rather than have her face a life in slavery. Her story has inspired Toni Morrison’s Beloved, a film based on the novel starring Oprah Winfrey, and an opera. Yet, her life has defied solid historical treatment. In Driven toward Madness, Nikki M. Taylor brilliantly captures her circumstances and her transformation from a murdering mother to an icon of tragedy and resistance.
Taylor, the first African American woman to write a history of Garner, grounds her approach in black feminist theory. She melds history with trauma studies to account for shortcomings in the written record. In so doing, she rejects distortions and fictionalized images; probes slavery’s legacies of sexual and physical violence and psychic trauma in new ways; and finally fleshes out a figure who had been rendered an apparition.
Although the northern Illinois chapters of the story of Susan “Sukey” Richardson’s escape from slavery on the Underground Railroad are documented, the part played by southern Illinois in that historic episode has remained obscure. Carol Pirtle changes that with her investigation into the 1843 suit Andrew Borders lodged against William Hayes, charging his neighbor with helping slaves from the Borders estate escape to Galesburg. In conjunction with her probe into the past, Pirtle also discovered the Hayes correspondence.
Pirtle documents Hayes’s involvement in the Illinois Underground Railroad through approximately two hundred letters received by Hayes from the early 1820s until his death in 1849. Many of these letters specifically corroborate his participation in the escape of slaves from the Borders estate. One such letter came from T. A. Jones in 1843: “You Dear Sir are to me an unknown friend, yet I believe you are a friend to the poor down trodden Slave. This is as good an introduction as I want from any man. My brother, our cause is a holy one.” Letters written by Galesburg residents show that several prominent citizens of that community also assisted in the affair, proving that Knox College administrators and trustees were active in the Underground Railroad.
Pirtle also includes excerpts from the trial transcript from the 1844 civil case against Hayes, which was tried in Pinckneyville, Illinois. She researched newspaper accounts of the event, most notably those in the Western Citizen and the Sparta Herald. Records of the Covenanter Presbyterian church of which Hayes was a member provide partial explanations of Hayes’s motives.
Telling the story of Hayes and his involvement with Susan Richardson and the Underground Railroad, Pirtle provides insight into the work of abolitionists in Illinois. Escape Betwixt Two Suns, in fact, is one of the few books to substantiate the legends of the Underground Railroad. She tells the story of a quiet man who made a difference, of a man deserving the accolades of a hero.
"Shall a man be dragged back to Slavery from our Free Soil, without an open trial of his right to Liberty?" —Handbill circulated in Milwaukee on March 11, 1854
In Finding Freedom, Ruby West Jackson and Walter T. McDonald provide readers with the first narrative account of the life of Joshua Glover, the runaway slave who was famously broken out of jail by thousands of Wisconsin abolitionists in 1854. Employing original research, the authors chronicle Glover's days as a slave in St. Louis, his violent capture and thrilling escape in Milwaukee, his journey on the Underground Railroad, and his 33 years of freedom in rural Canada.
While Jackson and McDonald demonstrate how the catalytic "Glover incident" captured national attention—pitting the proud state of Wisconsin against the Supreme Court and adding fuel to the pre-Civil War fire—their primary focus is on the ordinary citizens, both black and white, with whom Joshua Glover interacted. A bittersweet story of bravery and compassion, Finding Freedom provides the first full picture of the man for whom so many fought, and around whom so much history was made.
This enlightening study employs the tools of archaeology to uncover a new historical perspective on the Underground Railroad. Unlike previous histories of the Underground Railroad, which have focused on frightened fugitive slaves and their benevolent abolitionist accomplices, Cheryl LaRoche focuses instead on free African American communities, the crucial help they provided to individuals fleeing slavery, and the terrain where those flights to freedom occurred.
This study foregrounds several small, rural hamlets on the treacherous southern edge of the free North in Illinois, Indiana, and Ohio. LaRoche demonstrates how landscape features such as waterways, iron forges, and caves played a key role in the conduct and effectiveness of the Underground Railroad. Rich in oral histories, maps, memoirs, and archaeological investigations, this examination of the "geography of resistance" tells the new powerful and inspiring story of African Americans ensuring their own liberation in the midst of oppression.
Freedom as Marronage
Neil Roberts University of Chicago Press, 2015 Library of Congress F2191.B55R62 2015 | Dewey Decimal 323.11960729
What is the opposite of freedom? In Freedom as Marronage, Neil Roberts answers this question with definitive force: slavery, and from there he unveils powerful new insights on the human condition as it has been understood between these poles. Crucial to his investigation is the concept of marronage—a form of slave escape that was an important aspect of Caribbean and Latin American slave systems. Examining this overlooked phenomenon—one of action from slavery and toward freedom—he deepens our understanding of freedom itself and the origin of our political ideals.
Roberts examines the liminal and transitional space of slave escape in order to develop a theory of freedom as marronage, which contends that freedom is fundamentally located within this space—that it is a form of perpetual flight. He engages a stunning variety of writers, including Hannah Arendt, W. E. B. Du Bois, Angela Davis, Frederick Douglass, Samuel Taylor Coleridge, and the Rastafari, among others, to develop a compelling lens through which to interpret the quandaries of slavery, freedom, and politics that still confront us today. The result is a sophisticated, interdisciplinary work that unsettles the ways we think about freedom by always casting it in the light of its critical opposite.
People running from slavery made many hard journeys to find freedom—on steamboats and in carriages, across rivers and in hay-covered wagons. Some were shot at. Many were chased by slave catchers. Others hid in tunnels and secret rooms. But these troubles were worth it for the men, women, and children who eventually reached freedom. Freedom Train North tells the stories of fugitive slaves who found help in Wisconsin. Young readers (ages 7 to 12) will meet people like Joshua Glover, who was broken out of jail by a mob of freedom workers in Milwaukee, and Jacob Green, who escaped five times before he finally made it to freedom.
This compelling book also introduces stories of the strangers who hid fugitive slaves and helped them on their way, brave men and women who broke the law to do what was right. As both a historian and a storyteller, author Julia Pferdehirt shares these exciting and important stories of a dangerous time in Wisconsin’s past. Using manuscripts, letters, and artifacts from the period, as well as stories passed down from one generation to another, Pferdehirt takes us deep into our state’s past, challenging and inspiring us with accounts of courage and survival.
Freeing Charles recounts the life and epic rescue of captured fugitive slave Charles Nalle of Culpeper, Virginia, who was forcibly liberated by Harriet Tubman and others in Troy, New York, on April 27, 1860. Scott Christianson follows Nalle from his enslavement by the Hansborough family in Virginia through his escape by the Underground Railroad and his experiences in the North on the eve of the Civil War. This engaging narrative represents the first in-depth historical study of this crucial incident, one of the fiercest anti-slavery riots after Harpers Ferry. Christianson also presents a richly detailed look at slavery culture in antebellum Virginia and probes the deepest political and psychological aspects of this epic tale. His account underscores fundamental questions about racial inequality, the rule of law, civil disobedience, and violent resistance to slavery in the antebellum North and South. As seen in New York Times and on C-Span’s Book TV.
Growing up as a slave in an urban area of Missouri allowed William Wells Brown to live a life that was different from that of the plantation slave so often discussed in slave histories. Born in 1814, the son of a white man and a slave woman, Brown spent the first twenty years of his life mainly in St. Louis and the surrounding areas working as a house servant, a field hand, a tavern keeper’s assistant, a printer’s helper, an assistant in a medical office, and a handyman for James Walker, a Missouri slave trader. During his time with Walker, Brown made three trips up and down the Mississippi River. These trips allowed him to encounter slavery from every perspective and provided experiences he would draw on throughout his writing career.
In FromFugitive Slave to Free Man, two of Brown’s best-known writings, Narrative of William W. Brown, A Fugitive Slave. Written by Himself and My Southern Home: or, The South and Its People, are reprinted together with an expanded introduction by William L. Andrews. Brown’s Narrative, published in 1847, was his first autobiographical writing and was received with wide acclaim, going through four American and five British editions. Only Frederick Douglass’s autobiography sold better, casting a constant shadow over Brown’s works. Douglass and his life were touted as extraordinary, while Brown was referred to as the typical “every man’s slave.” However, the life of William Brown and his writings prove otherwise.
Determined to be a man of letters, Brown was the first African American to write a travel book, Three Years in Europe: or, Places I Have Seen and People I Have Met, which was based on his time abroad in Paris at an international peace conference and in England on an anti-slavery crusade. A year later he published Clotel, the first novel written by an African American and the first to exploit the decades-old rumors of an affair between President Thomas Jefferson and his slave Sally Hemmings. Between 1854 and 1867, Brown published the first drama by an African American, The Escape: or, A Leap for Freedom, and two volumes of black history, one of which is the first military history of the African American in the United States.
In 1880, Brown wrote his final autobiography, My Southern Home. In it he endeavors to explain the complex interrelationships between blacks and whites in the South. Taken together, both of the books included in this volume provide fascinating contrasts, especially in their depictions of slavery, and illustrate the creative innovations Brown developed in various forms of life writing—some of which were more experimental than Douglass’s and more prophetic of the future of African American literature.
In this book, Steven Lubet examines, in detail, three trials on the great issue of fugitive slaves in the 1850’s, the fugitive slave statutes, and how the legal system coped or failed to cope with the apparent inconsistencies between the Constitution supporting slavery and its purpose of guaranteeing certain rights to every man. The first case occurred in 1851 when a white Pennsylvania miller named Caster Hanway faced treason charges based on his participation in the Christiana slave riot. The second trial was of Anthony Burns in Boston, and the third case arose out of the 1858 capture of John Price by Kentucky slavehunters in the abolitionist stronghold of Oberlin, Ohio. The fugitive slave trials also provide modern readers with uncomfortable insights into the nature of slavery itself. With sincere conviction, many northern judges – including some who claimed to oppose slavery – calmly considered the quantum of evidence necessary to turn a human being into property. This book powerfully illuminates the tremendous bravery of the fugitives, the moral courage of their rescuers and lawyers, and, alas, the failure of American legal and political institutions to come to grips with slavery short of civil war.
During the early seventeenth century, Kisama emerged in West Central Africa (present-day Angola) as communities and an identity for those fleeing expanding states and the violence of the trans-Atlantic slave trade. The fugitives mounted effective resistance to European colonialism despite—or because of—the absence of centralized authority or a common language. In Fugitive Modernities Jessica A. Krug offers a continent- and century-spanning narrative exploring Kisama's intellectual, political, and social histories. Those who became Kisama forged a transnational reputation for resistance, and by refusing to organize their society around warrior identities, they created viable social and political lives beyond the bounds of states and the ruthless market economy of slavery. Krug follows the idea of Kisama to the Americas, where fugitives in the New Kingdom of Grenada (present-day Colombia) and Brazil used it as a means of articulating politics in fugitive slave communities. By tracing the movement of African ideas, rather than African bodies, Krug models new methods for grappling with politics and the past, while showing how the history of Kisama and its legacy as a global symbol of resistance that has evaded state capture offers essential lessons for those working to build new and just societies.
In this study of literature and law before and since the Civil War, Stephen M. Best shows how American conceptions of slavery, property, and the idea of the fugitive were profoundly interconnected. The Fugitive's Properties uncovers a poetics of intangible, personified property emerging out of antebellum laws, circulating through key nineteenth-century works of literature, and informing cultural forms such as blackface minstrelsy and early race films.
Best also argues that legal principles dealing with fugitives and indebted persons provided a sophisticated precursor to intellectual property law as it dealt with rights in appearance, expression, and other abstract aspects of personhood. In this conception of property as fleeting, indeed fugitive, American law preserved for much of the rest of the century slavery's most pressing legal imperative: the production of personhood as a market commodity. By revealing the paradoxes of this relationship between fugitive slave law and intellectual property law, Best helps us to understand how race achieved much of its force in the American cultural imagination. A work of ambitious scope and compelling cross-connections, The Fugitive's Properties sets new agendas for scholars of American literature and legal culture.
During the antebellum years, over 750,000 enslaved people were taken to the Lower Mississippi Valley, where two-thirds of them were sold in the slave markets of New Orleans, Natchez, and Memphis. Those who ended up in Louisiana found themselves in an environment of swamplands, sugar plantations, French-speaking creoles, and the exotic metropolis of New Orleans. Those sold to planters in the newly-opened Mississippi Delta cleared land and cultivated cotton for owners who had moved west to get rich as quickly as possible, driving this labor force to harsh extremes.
Like enslaved people all over the South, those in the Lower Mississippi Valley left home at night for clandestine parties or religious meetings, sometimes “laying out” nearby for a few days or weeks. Some of them fled to New Orleans and other southern cities where they could find refuge in the subculture of slaves and free blacks living there, and a few attempted to live permanently free in the swamps and forests of the surrounding area. Fugitives also tried to returnto eastern slave states to rejoin families from whom they had been separated. Some sought freedom on the northern side of the Ohio River; othersfled to Mexico for the same purpose.
Fugitivism provides a wealth of new information taken from advertisements, newspaper accounts, and court records. It explains how escapees made use of steamboat transportation, how urban runaways differed from their rural counterparts, how enslaved people were victimized by slave stealers, how conflicts between black fugitives and the white people who tried to capture them encouraged a culture of violence in the South, and how runaway slaves from the Lower Mississippi Valley influenced the abolitionist movement in the North.
Readers will discover that along with an end to oppression, freedom-seeking slaves wanted the same opportunities afforded to most Americans.
Inspired by the searing story of Margaret Garner, the escaped slave who in 1856 slit her daughter's throat rather than have her forced back into slavery, the essays in this collection focus on historical and contemporary examples of slavery and women's resistance to oppression from the nineteenth century to the twenty-first. Each chapter uses Garner's example--the real-life narrative behind Toni Morrison's Beloved andthe opera Margaret Garner--as a thematic foundation for an interdisciplinary conversation about gendered resistance in locations including Brazil, Yemen, India, and the United States.
Contributors are Nailah Randall Bellinger, Olivia Cousins, Mary E. Frederickson, Cheryl Janifer LaRoche, Carolyn Mazloomi, Cathy McDaniels-Wilson, Catherine Roma, Huda Seif, S. Pearl Sharp, Raquel Luciana de Souza, Jolene Smith, Veta Tucker, Delores M. Walters, Diana Williams, and Kristine Yohe.
Harriet Tubman is one of America’s most beloved historical figures, revered alongside luminaries including Abraham Lincoln and Frederick Douglass. Harriet Tubman: Myth, Memory, and History tells the fascinating story of Tubman’s life as an American icon. The distinguished historian Milton C. Sernett compares the larger-than-life symbolic Tubman with the actual “historical” Tubman. He does so not to diminish Tubman’s achievements but rather to explore the interplay of history and myth in our national consciousness. Analyzing how the Tubman icon has changed over time, Sernett shows that the various constructions of the “Black Moses” reveal as much about their creators as they do about Tubman herself.
Three biographies of Harriet Tubman were published within months of each other in 2003–04; they were the first book-length studies of the “Queen of the Underground Railroad” to appear in almost sixty years. Sernett examines the accuracy and reception of these three books as well as two earlier biographies first published in 1869 and 1943. He finds that the three recent studies come closer to capturing the “real” Tubman than did the earlier two. Arguing that the mythical Tubman is most clearly enshrined in stories told to and written for children, Sernett scrutinizes visual and textual representations of “Aunt Harriet” in children’s literature. He looks at how Tubman has been portrayed in film, painting, music, and theater; in her Maryland birthplace; in Auburn, New York, where she lived out her final years; and in the naming of schools, streets, and other public venues. He also investigates how the legendary Tubman was embraced and represented by different groups during her lifetime and at her death in 1913. Ultimately, Sernett contends that Harriet Tubman may be America’s most malleable and resilient icon.
Mary Prince was the first black British woman to escape from slavery and publish a record of her experiences. In this unique document, Mary Prince vividly recalls her life as a slave in Bermuda, Turks Island, and Antigua, her rebellion against physical and psychological degradation, and her eventual escape to London in 1828.
First published in London and Edinburgh in 1831, and well into its third edition that year, The History of Mary Prince inflamed public opinion and created political havoc. Never before had the sufferings and indignities of enslavement been seen through the eyes of a woman--a woman struggling for freedom in the face of great odds.
Moira Ferguson's edition of the book added an introduction, annotations, and appendices. The book has found popularity both in the classroom and with the general public. Recently, an adaptation of the memoirs of Mary Prince appeared as one segment of "A Skirt Through History," a six-part feature film series produced by the BBC. Mary Prince's story has also been the centerpiece of BBC radio broadcasts.
In this revised and expanded edition of The History of Mary Prince, Ferguson has added new material, based on her extensive research in Bermuda and London. The book includes new details of Mary Prince's experiences as a freewoman in England, the transcripts of several libel cases brought against her, and the reactions of British society, as seen in prominent periodicals of the day, against the original publication of The History of Mary Prince. This new material brings greater depth and detail and serves to more fully illustrate and contextualize the life of this remarkable woman.
Moira Ferguson is James E. Ryan Professor of English and Women's Literature, University of Nebraska.
The island nation of Iceland is known for many things—majestic landscapes, volcanic eruptions, distinctive seafood—but racial diversity is not one of them. So the little-known story of Hans Jonathan, a free black man who lived and raised a family in early nineteenth-century Iceland, is improbable and compelling, the stuff of novels.
In The Man Who Stole Himself, Gisli Palsson lays out the story of Hans Jonathan (also known as Hans Jónatan) in stunning detail. Born into slavery in St. Croix in 1784, Hans was taken as a slave to Denmark, where he eventually enlisted in the navy and fought on behalf of the country in the 1801 Battle of Copenhagen. After the war, he declared himself a free man, believing that he was due freedom not only because of his patriotic service, but because while slavery remained legal in the colonies, it was outlawed in Denmark itself. He thus became the subject of one of the most notorious slavery cases in European history, which he lost. Then Hans ran away—never to be heard from in Denmark again, his fate unknown for more than two hundred years. It’s now known that Hans fled to Iceland, where he became a merchant and peasant farmer, married, and raised two children. Today, he has become something of an Icelandic icon, claimed as a proud and daring ancestor both there and among his descendants in America. The Man Who Stole Himself brilliantly intertwines Hans Jonathan’s adventurous travels with a portrait of the Danish slave trade, legal arguments over slavery, and the state of nineteenth-century race relations in the Northern Atlantic world. Throughout the book, Palsson traces themes of imperial dreams, colonialism, human rights, and globalization, which all come together in the life of a single, remarkable man. Hans literally led a life like no other. His is the story of a man who had the temerity—the courage—to steal himself.
My Bondage and My Freedom
Frederick Douglass University of Illinois Press, 1988 Library of Congress E449.D738 1987 | Dewey Decimal 326.0924
This is the first annotated edition of a work Eric J. Sundquist has called "a classic text of the American Renaissance." As Henry Louis Gates, Jr., has pointed out, My Bondage and My Freedom has been largely ignored by critics, in part because it is longer and less accessible than Narrative of the Life of Frederick Douglass but also because it has not up to now been "read" by a sensitive critic. "The latter reason is paramount and urgently needed to be addressed, and William Andrews is just the person to introduce Douglass's second autobiography to our generation of readers. He has few peers in nineteenth-century black criticism."
During the 1850s and early 1860s, Iowa, the westernmost free state bordering a slave state, stood as a bulwark of antislavery sentiment while the decades-long struggle over slavery shifted westward. On its southern border lay Missouri, the northernmost slaveholding state. To its west was the Kansas-Nebraska Territory, where proslavery and antislavery militias battled. Missouri slaves fled to Iowa seeking freedom, finding opponents of slavery who risked their lives and livelihoods to help them, as well as bounty hunters who forced them back into bondage. When opponents of slavery streamed west across the state’s broad prairies to prevent slaveholders from dominating Kansas, Iowans fed, housed, and armed the antislavery settlers. Not a few young Iowa men also took up arms.
In Necessary Courage, historian Lowell J. Soike details long-forgotten stories of determined runaways and the courageous Iowans who acted as conductors on this most dangerous of railroads—the underground railroad. Alexander Clark, an African American businessman in Muscatine, hid a young fugitive in his house to protect him from slavecatchers while he fought for his freedom in the courts. While keeping antislavery newspapers fully apprised of the battle against human bondage in western Iowa, Elvira Gaston Platt drove a wagon full of fugitives to the next safe house under the noses of her proslavery neighbors. John Brown, fleeing across Iowa with a price on his head for the murders of proslavery Kansas settlers, relied on Iowans like Josiah Grinnell and William Penn Clarke to keep him, his men, and the twelve Missouri slaves they had liberated hidden from the authorities. Several young Iowans went on to fight alongside Brown at Harpers Ferry. These stories and many more are told here.
A suspenseful and often heartbreaking tale of desperation, courage, cunning, and betrayal, this book reveals the critical role that Iowans played in the struggle against slavery and the coming of the Civil War.
This gripping study examines slave resistance and protest in antebellum Florida and its local and national impact from 1821 to 1865. Using a variety of sources, Larry Eugene Rivers discusses Florida's unique historical significance as a runaway slave haven dating back to the seventeenth century. In moving detail, Rivers illustrates what life was like for enslaved blacks whose families were pulled asunder as they relocated and how they fought back any way they could to control small parts of their own lives. Identifying slave rebellions such as the Stono, Louisiana, Denmark (Telemaque) Vesey, Gabriel, and the Nat Turner insurrections, Rivers argues persuasively that the size, scope, and intensity of black resistance in the Second Seminole War makes it the largest sustained slave insurrection in American history.
On March 11, 1854, the people of Wisconsin prevented agents of the federal government from carrying away the fugitive slave, Joshua Glover. Assembling in mass outside the Milwaukee courthouse, they demanded that the federal officers respect his civil liberties as they would those of any other citizen of the state. When the officers refused, the crowd took matters into its own hands and rescued Joshua Glover. The federal government brought his rescuers to trial, but the Wisconsin Supreme Court intervened and took the bold step of ruling the Fugitive Slave Act unconstitutional.
The Rescue of Joshua Glover delves into the courtroom trials, political battles, and cultural equivocation precipitated by Joshua Glover’s brief, but enormously important, appearance in Wisconsin on the eve of the Civil War.
H. Robert Baker articulates the many ways in which this case evoked powerful emotions in antebellum America, just as the stage adaptation of Uncle Tom’s Cabin was touring the country and stirring antislavery sentiments. Terribly conflicted about race, Americans struggled mightily with a revolutionary heritage that sanctified liberty but also brooked compromise with slavery. Nevertheless, as The Rescue of Joshua Glover demonstrates, they maintained the principle that the people themselves were the last defenders of constitutional liberty, even as Glover’s rescue raised troubling questions about citizenship and the place of free blacks in America.
The Transformation of the Abolitionist Movement from Peaceful Demonstration to Radical Confrontation as Embodied in John Brown
Establishing himself as a fresh and important voice in the history of African American emancipation,William S. King provides a critical introduction to the lead-up to the Civil War. A skilled and judicious chronicler, King seamlessly weaves multiple and seemingly disparate threads, including early nineteenth-century Revivalism, the emergence of the Republic of Texas, the fugitive slave laws—and even the explosion of a cannon aboard the U.S.S. Princeton in 1844—to explain how the opposition to slavery in America changed from producing speeches and pamphlets to embracing the reality that slavery could be eradicated only through armed conflict. By tracing this transformation through the life of John Brown, King provides an entirely new assessment of this enigmatic figure who was characterized as a “mad man” in the wake of his butchering of proslavery settlers in Kansas and the inept raid on Harpers Ferry, Virginia. King puts these actions in context to explain the paradox of Brown’s legacy. On one hand he was vilified as an unstable threat to American democracy or a fanatical sideshow to the history of the Civil War, while on the other he was an inspiration to the oppressed, a man who garnered the indomitable Harriet Tubman’s commitment to the righteousness of his endeavor.
Elegantly written with a command of period sources, Till the Dark Angel Comes: Abolitionism and the Road to the Second American Revolution is the story of interracial opposition to slavery, the important debates among free blacks as to their future in America, and the arguments and compromises at the highest levels of government. Here we encounter many personalities of the time, some well known, such as Frederick Douglass,William Lloyd Garrison, and John C. Calhoun, and others less so, but no less important—Martin Delany, Henry Highland Garnet, and Elijah Lovejoy.
To Free a Family
Sydney Nathans Harvard University Press, 2011 Library of Congress E450.W322N37 2011 | Dewey Decimal 306.362092
To Free a Family tells the remarkable story of Mary Walker, who in August 1848 fled her owner for refuge in the north and spent the next seventeen years trying to recover her son and daughter. Her freedom, like that of thousands who escaped from bondage, came at a great price—remorse at parting without a word, fear for her family’s fate.
Uncle Tom's Cabin
Harriet Beecher Stowe Harvard University Press, 2009 Library of Congress PS2954.U5 2009 | Dewey Decimal 813.3
Easily the most controversial antislavery novel written in antebellum America, and one of the best-selling books of the nineteenth century, Uncle Tom's Cabin is often credited with intensifying the sectional conflict that led to the Civil War. In his introduction, David Bromwich places Harriet Beecher Stowe's novel in its Victorian contexts and reminds us why it is an enduring work of literary and moral imagination.
The Civil War is remembered as a war of brother against brother, with women standing innocently on the sidelines. But battlefield realities soon challenged this simplistic understanding of women’s place in war. Stephanie McCurry shows that women were indispensable to the unfolding of the Civil War, as they have been—and continue to be—in all wars.