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John William Templeton

The black businessmen William Alexander Leidesdorff and Andres Pico were both born in 1810 with something the abolitionist Frederick Douglass and millions of other Africans in the Western Hemisphere could not claim: their fathers' names. Leidesdorff took that birthright from the Virgin Islands to the far ends of what was to be the United States: Hawaii and California. Pico was able to rise to the highest political and military offices in Alta California because members of his family had already served as military commanders and established their own ranches along the Pacific coast.

West was the direction of freedom for thousands of African Americans who labored long and hard in the abolition movement with Douglass or who simply sought to avoid the segregation prevalent within the boundaries of the United States They found vast areas where blacks were not only welcomed but also were in command of physical political military ...


Douglas R. Egerton and Judith Mulcahy

[This entry contains two subentries dealing with the American Colonization Society from its establishment in1817 through 1895. The first article discusses reactions and controversy related to the society until1830, while the second article includes discussion of debates within the free black community and attacks on ...


M. W. Daly

British adventurer, explorer, and administrator, was born in London to Samuel Baker, a businessman, and his wife. Educated in England and Germany, and a civil engineer by training, he played a notable role in the history of the Upper Nile in the 1860s. His varied and peripatetic life as a planter, big-game hunter, writer, and controversialist may be studied in his extensive writings and the enormous literature on European travel in Africa.

His work in Africa began in 1861–1865 with explorations in the eastern Sudan, up the White Nile, (where he met James Augustus Grant and John Hanning Speke), and beyond to the Great Lakes. Credit for discovery of the source of the Nile has gone to Grant and Speke; Baker, famously accompanied by his second wife, Florence, explored and named Lake Albert Nyanza. For these adventures, embellished in several books, Baker was much acclaimed, and in 1869 as ...


Gayle T. Tate

When most people, regardless of age, sex, or race, are asked to identify black nationalists, they may mention Marcus Garvey, El Hajj Malik El Shabazz (Malcolm X), or, more recently, Minister Louis Farrakhan of the Nation of Islam. To others, who are aware of the back-to-Africa movements of the late nineteenth century, Bishop Henry McNeal Turner frequently comes to mind. Rarely however, have black women nationalists such as Maria W. Stewart, Mary Ann Shadd Cary, Henrietta Vinton Davis, Audley “Queen Mother” Moore, or Amy Jacques Garvey been recognized for their contributions to the history of the black nationalist movement and ideology Other black women through mass movements political organizations church groups female societies and the early women s club movement fueled the movement s growth at different times in African American history Although African American men were in the foreground of the ...



Gloria Grant Roberson

The passing of the Fugitive Slave Law of 1850 created an atmosphere of anxiety and urgency for abolitionists, who encouraged many slave men, women, and children to leave the South and travel north. Roused with news of the Underground Railroad—a network of antislavery advocates who would provide guidance, food, and shelter along the way—slaves gathered together in secret to plan escape. Comforted by news of blacks living free in Canadian settlements with housing, employment, and dignity, those who were resolute prodded the undecided. Runaways were instructed to travel under the cover of darkness—over mountains, through forests, across waterways—always heading north, where liberal sentiments promised to shield them from the slaveholders' encroachment on their right to be free. But was Canada really the utopia that abolitionists promised and enslaved men and women imagined?

The efforts of people who labored on the Underground Railroad to deliver fugitive slaves to Canadian shores truly ...


Jim Mendelsohn

According to Potawatomi Indians in the early nineteenth century, “The first white man to settle at Chickagou was a Negro.” Jean Baptiste Pointe Du Sable, an Afro-French trader, began the settlement of Chicago in approximately 1790.

In only fifty years, as Chicago became an important center of commerce for the grain and livestock trades, a vital African American community developed along the banks of the Chicago River. Composed of fugitive slaves fleeing the South and a small number of free blacks, the community acted in defiance of the Illinois Black Code, which required all African Americans to carry a certificate of freedom and post a $1,000 bond. Together with white abolitionists, the black community vigorously protested against slavery, resettled more fugitive slaves from the South, and established important links on the Underground Railroad. By the outbreak of the Civil War (1861–1865 approximately 1 000 blacks ...


Paul Finkelman and Sam Hitchmough

[This entry contains three subentries dealing with civil rights from 1619 to 1895 The first article provides a discussion of the topic during the colonial period through the American Revolution the second article discusses the topic up to the beginning of the Civil War in 1861 and the third ...


Eric Bennett

Detroit was founded by French slaveholders, but when Michigan joined the United States in 1837, the state legislature abolished slavery. The city soon earned a reputation as a major stop on the Underground Railroad, and by the Civil War (1861–1865), fugitive slaves constituted the largest group of African Americans in Detroit. The black community founded a reading room, a Young Men's Debating Club, and even an African-American Philharmonic Association, and many abolitionists made Detroit their center of activity.

After the Civil War, the black population in Detroit increased sevenfold as freedpeople arrived in search of work, largely from Virginia and Kentucky. Empowered by growing numbers as well as the Fifteenth Amendment, which gave freedmen the vote, African Americans began to seek and win local political offices.

By the turn of the twentieth century Detroit s liberal reputation combined with worsening conditions in the South to encourage ...


Richard C. Lindberg

explorer and merchant, was born in San Marc, Haiti, the son of a slave woman (name unknown) and Dandonneau (first name unknown), scion of a prominent French Canadian family active in the North American fur trade. Surviving historical journals record the name of Jean Baptiste Pointe du Sable (Pointe au Sable by some accounts), a Haitian of mixed-race ancestry, as the first permanent settler of Chicago. In her 1856 memoir of frontier life in the emerging Northwest Territory, Juliette Kinzie, the wife of the fur trader John Kinzie makes note of the fact that the first white man who settled here was a Negro Several of the voyageurs and commercial men who regularly traversed the shores of southern Lake Michigan in the last decade of the eighteenth century kept accurate records of their encounters in journals and ledger books One such entry describes du Sable as a ...


Jean Baptiste Pointe du Sable is reputed to be the founder of Chicago because he was the first non–Native American to build a home on the future site of the city. As an enterprising free black man on the Revolutionary frontier, Du Sable has become a symbolic figure of great importance to the modern-day African American community, especially in Chicago. The lack of much concrete evidence about his life seems only to enhance his mythic importance as a pioneering black settler and prominent frontiersman. Documents composed by English speakers spell his name variously as “Au Sable,” “Point Sable,” “Sabre,” and “Pointe de Saible.”

Du Sable s birth date is not known It is thought that he was born in the town of Saint Marc on the island of Saint Domingue in what later became the first free black republic in the Americas Haiti At the time of his birth Saint ...


Richard A. Bradshaw

French colonial administrator in Ubangi-Shari and governor-general of French Equatorial Africa, was born Adolphe-Félix-Sylvestre Éboué on 26 December 1884 in Cayenne, French Guyana. The fourth of five children of Yves Urbain Éboué (1851–1898) and Aurélie Léveillé (1856–1926), his maternal and paternal great grandparents were brought as slaves from Africa in the early nineteenth century to work at Roura, close to Cayenne, but they were manumitted in 1848.

Éboué attended primary school at Cayenne, started secondary school at the College of Cayenne, and obtained a diploma to teach primary school in 1901. Governor Émile Merwart of Guyana then granted Éboué a half-scholarship that allowed him to attend the Lycée Montaigne in Bordeaux until 1905, after which Éboué studied at the Colonial School in Paris and graduated in 1908 Éboué was then sent to Ubangi Shari where he served off and on for twenty years Merwart the governor ...


George Boulukos

slave, sailor, writer, and activist (widely known in his time as Gustavus Vassa), became the most famous African in eighteenth-century Britain as the author of his autobiography, The Interesting Narrative of the Life of Olaudah Equiano, or Gustavus Vassa, the African (1789 While the scholar Vincent Carretta has found some evidence placing his birth in South Carolina Equiano identifies his birthplace as Essaka a small ethnically Igbo town in present day Nigeria His parents remain unknown but Equiano s family was prominent he expected to undergo a scarification ritual but was kidnapped by slavers as a young boy He experienced slavery in a variety of West African communities until he was brought to a seaport and sold to European slavers Neither Essaka nor the name Equiano has been definitively identified although both have plausible Igbo analogs such as Isseke and Ekwuano Both his African origin and his exact ...



Dedra McDonald Birzer

explorer, enslaved North African, and the first representative of the so-called Old World to encounter peoples of today's American Southwest, was born in Azamor, Morocco. His career as an explorer began in 1528 with the journey to Florida of Pánfilo de Narváez.

This initial Spanish exploration of Florida ended in disaster. The Narváez expedition included four hundred men sailing on five ships. They departed Havana, Cuba, in April 1528 and reached present-day Tampa Bay on 1 May. There Narváez split his forces, ordering the ships to sail along the coast while he marched inward with three hundred men, searching for a fabled city of gold and its attendant riches. A series of attacks by natives reduced the Spanish forces, but they continued their explorations, reaching Apalachen, principal settlement of the Apalachee people (located near present-day Tallahassee) by July 1528 Overwhelmed by native forces defended by highly ...


Rob Fink

With the return of the Democratic Party to power in the South following Reconstruction, African Americans watched their rights as citizens steadily disappear. Thousands of freed slaves dealt with the problem by leaving the South for a potentially better life in other regions of the country. One major destination of these emigrants was the new state of Kansas. In what is known as the Exoduster Movement, over twenty-five thousand African Americans migrated en masse during the 1870s and 1880s.

Southern blacks saw Kansas as an agricultural utopia. Rumors circulated that the state's land was more fertile and its climate more hospitable than in the South. Furthermore, since the Homestead Act of 1862 granted 160 acres of land to anyone, regardless of race, who agreed to pay a filing fee and farm the land for five years, African Americans believed Kansas offered them the chance to be landowners.

The idea of ...


Building on the work of earlier explorers, European explorers of Africa after 1800 provided information used by European powers to carry out their colonization of the continent. By crisscrossing the vast continent’s interior, nineteenth-century explorers, many of them Christian missionaries, contributed far more to Western knowledge of Africa and its peoples than earlier explorers had. These Europeans discovered that beyond the African coast lay a continent much more hospitable than their legends and myths of the “dark continent” had suggested. European exploration of Africa during the nineteenth century had three main goals: the elimination of the slave trade, the imposition of “legitimate” commerce, and the spread of Christianity among Africans. This new phase of exploration began at the end of the eighteenth century. The Association for the Discovery of the Interior Parts of Africa—founded in 1788 by a small group of wealthy Englishmen and popularly called the African Association ...



Jeremy Rich

Portuguese explorer who helped open up European commercial links to both western and eastern Africa, was born sometime between 1460 and 1469. He probably was born at Sines, a town on the southwestern coast of Portugal. His father was Estêvão da Gama, a knight in the court of the Duke of Viseu. Da Gama’s mother was Isabel Sodré, a woman of noble descent. It is a paradox that so little is known of da Gama’s life, given his fame as the first Portuguese sea captain to reach India. Since da Gama was a younger son, he may have entered Atlantic exploration to make up for losing out on his father’s inheritance.

At some point da Gama became an agent of King João II of Portugal who sought to promote Atlantic trade and exploration like his more famous predecessor Henry the Navigator Gama joined the Order of Santiago a brotherhood ...


Mako Fitts

Founded by Marcus Garvey in Jamaica in 1914, the Universal Negro Improvement Association (UNIA) was a transatlantic grass- roots movement to promote the social, political, economic, and cultural advancement of African-descended peoples. Advocating a spirit of racial pride and self-determination, UNIA was the largest international movement of African-descended peoples in history.

Women were involved from the beginning in structuring the organization and made up at least half of its membership. Eva Alred was appointed president of the Ladies’ Division, and Amy Ashwood who later became Garvey s first wife and a force in the early years of the movement was named associate secretary Each local division had both male and female presidents The female president administered the membership for women and the female auxiliaries Women had autonomy over the female clubs and auxiliaries including the Universal African Black Cross Nurses the Motor Corps and the Ladies of the ...


At the end of the American Civil War (1861–1865) and the abolition of slavery, 91 percent of America's five million African Americans lived in the Southern states, roughly the same percentage as in 1790. Blacks made up 36 percent of the total Southern population (as compared with 3 percent of the total Northern population), and worked mostly as sharecroppers, tenant farmers, and domestic servants. Very few owned property. Most black farmers were heavily in debt and struggled to pay rents. Other forms of labor open to blacks were similarly low-paying and exploitative.



Caryn E. Neumann

The Gullahs were African Americans who settled in slave communities along the Atlantic coastal plain and on the chain of Sea Islands; in Georgia these people were known as Geechees. Geographical isolation and strong community life permitted the Gullahs to preserve their African cultural heritage through their skills, language, arts, gestures, and foods.

The homeland of the Gullahs is a coastal strip about 250 miles long and 40 miles wide running through South Carolina and Georgia Low flat islands along the coast are separated from the mainland by saltwater streams This geographic isolation was combined with a steady influx of Africans and a relatively small population of whites to create a culture that was heavily African Even after the official ban on the importation of slaves blacks continued to be smuggled into the coastal areas thereby providing fresh reinforcements of African culture and customs With a higher ratio of Africans ...