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Article

Kate Tuttle

Although residential segregation is often considered one of the more harmful effects of racism in the United States, some African Americans in the nineteenth century chose to form their own racially separate communities. Unlike the ghettos and rural enclaves where many blacks were forced to live at the time, black towns were established to promote economic independence, self-government, and social equality for African Americans. More than eighty such towns were settled in the fifty years following the Civil War.

A few, such as New Philadelphia, Illinois, were formed even before the Civil War, but it was not until after Emancipation in the United States that the population of free blacks was large enough to supply settlers for the new towns. The first great wave of black migration began as Reconstruction ended in 1877 When federal troops withdrew from the South many blacks feared that the civil and political ...

Article

Brazil  

Mohammed Bashir Salau

Compared with other countries in the Americas Brazil has the largest number of people of African descent This demographic reality dates back to the era of the slave trade and it largely ensured that African cultural practices survived relatively more intact and institutionalized in Brazil than in other areas of the Americas In earlier times African Americans viewed Brazil despite its relatively longer history of involvement in the Atlantic slave trade as a desirable racial paradise where people of all colors lived together in harmony with equal opportunities This perception stemmed from several factors including the strong show of African Brazilian culture that brings Brazilians of all backgrounds together especially during carnivals The image of Brazil as a racial paradise however has been challenged and ultimately rejected by scholars who increasingly note the contradictions in Brazilian society Even though a growing number of African Americans no longer view Brazil s ...

Article

Haiti  

Philippe R. Girard

Haiti, which occupies the western third of the Caribbean island of Hispaniola, is the Western Hemisphere's second independent republic and the world's first black republic. Frederick Douglass served as U.S. minister and consul general to Haiti from 1889 to 1891. Christopher Columbus landed in Haiti (which he named Hispaniola) during his first transatlantic voyage in 1492. The island was home to Arawak Taino Indians, almost all of whom died of disease and bad treatment within fifty years of Columbus's arrival. Because of a dwindling Indian population and limited gold reserves, Hispaniola quickly became a backwater of Spain's American empire. France acquired the western third of the island under the Treaty of Ryswick (1697 and renamed it Saint Domingue Under French rule cultivation of coffee sugarcane cotton and indigo turned Haiti into the richest European colony in the Western Hemisphere but this success came at a price ...

Article

Adam Hochschild

The year is 1897 or 1898. Try to imagine, briskly stepping off a steamer that has just crossed the English Channel, a forceful, burly man in his mid-twenties, with a handlebar mustache. He is confident and well spoken, but his British speech is without the polish of Eton or Oxford. He is well dressed, but the clothes are not from Bond Street. With an ailing mother and a wife and growing family to support he is not the sort of person likely to get caught up in any idealistic cause. His ideas are thoroughly conventional. He looks—and is—every inch the sober, respectable businessman.

Article

Liberia  

Debra Newman Ham

During the colonial and early national periods, some American statesmen and citizens were uncomfortable with—if not openly opposed to—the African slave trade and concerned about the growing enslaved population and the smaller but increasing number of free people of color throughout the country. Some leaders began formulating plans for the relocation of free blacks.

The Revolutionary War led to the expansion of the freed population Many male slaves gained freedom through serving in the Continental or the British armed forces and many enslaved men women and children escaped to freedom behind British lines In the aftermath of the war most of the northern states passed gradual abolition laws further increasing the free black population Other slaves were freed by will deed self purchase or manumission Because the free black population often harbored runaways competed with white laborers lobbied for citizenship rights and sowed discontent or rebellion among the enslaved most ...

Article

Gregory D. Smithers

Throughout the eighteenth and nineteenth centuries France, Spain, Great Britain, and finally the United States colonized Louisiana and attempted to forge social and cultural systems that revolved around slavery. The administrative and imperial priorities of these countries, in addition to the racial, gender, and age structure of their respective colonial populations, influenced the types of societies to emerge in Louisiana.

The French were the first to colonize Louisiana. Their main priority was military: they were determined to prevent English expansion in North America by gaining a foothold at the mouth of the Mississippi River. French objectives were hamstrung, however, by the sparsely populated and settled nature of the colony. The 1706 census counted only eighty-five French and Canadian settlers. When John Law's Company of the West took control of Louisiana in 1717 the French population had grown to a paltry four hundred Granted a twenty five year monopoly ...

Article

Eric Bennett

A visitor to Memphis today can still discern the mark of cotton brokerage on the fronts of abandoned offices and warehouses. The visitor can see the National Civil Rights Museum at the Lorraine Motel, where Martin Luther King was assassinated, hear old and new Blues on Beale Street, and eat barbecued pork ribs in the restaurant owned by blues singer Riley B. (“B. B.”) King.

Memphis sits on a bluff overlooking the Mississippi River and was probably named for its geographical similarity to Memphis, Egypt, which flanks the Nile River. Memphis's proximity to the Mississippi River has played a key role in the city's 200-year history. In the antebellum period, regional slave trading and cotton commerce centered on the riverside town. Even after the American Civil War (1861–1865), the economy of Memphis depended on the transport and sale of cotton as well as other goods.

The ...

Article

Graham Russell Hodges

African Americans played a key role in the political economy and society of the colony and state of New York from the first settlement until the abolition of slavery in 1827 and thereafter. From the original dozen or so Creole blacks from around the Atlantic basin who worked in New Amsterdam in the 1620s, the population jumped to over 430 by 1640 and to over 600 at the time of the English takeover The first African Americans cleared land built fortifications and harvested crops and they occupied a status of partial freedom Permanent slavery did not exist in New Netherland but gradually merchants artisans millers and farmers purchased enslaved Africans for much needed labor Especially among younger farm families in the rural areas free labor was rare buying a slave made good economic sense Within the official Dutch Reformed Church subcontracting the religious instruction to the head of the ...

Article

Graham Russell Hodges and Leigh Kimmel

[This entry contains two subentries dealing with African Americans in New York City from the city s establishment through 1895 The first article provides a discussion of the topic during the colonial period until 1830 while the second article continues the discussion of New York through the nineteenth century ...

Article

Emma J. Lapsansky-Werner

In 1702William Penn, the founder of the British colony of Pennsylvania, freed Yaff, a talented slave who had earned his master's gratitude and respect. Yet Penn required that Yaff, who was then in England, return to live in America. Penn's other slaves were also freed, but not until after his death. These incongruous acts exemplify the inconsistencies in Pennsylvania's early relationship with Africans and African Americans. On the one hand many colonial Pennsylvanians owned slaves; on the other hand some white residents of the state—especially Quakers who worried that the violence inherent in slaveholding would jeopardize their relationship with God—initiated movements to alleviate the suffering of black Americans. Like Penn, many changed their views at different points in their lives; regardless, most were not interested in having African Americans be their neighbors.

In 1684, when Pennsylvania was two years old, the frigate Isabella arrived in Philadelphia ...

Article

Ruth Rosenberg-Naparsteck

The city of Rochester, New York, is situated at the mouth of the north-flowing Genesee River, which originates in the hills of Potter County, Pennsylvania, about 160 miles to the south. The watershed of the river has been referred to since the late 1700s as the Genesee Country. Most of the early settlers came from New England, where farms subdivided among succeeding generations of sons became small enough to encourage migration to the Genesee region's fertile land.

Migration and immigration eventually destabilized the New England values on which the village of Rochester had been founded. By the 1830s tent revivals like those held by the Reverend Charles Finney brought hellfire-and-brimstone sermons to the Genesee Country that led the area to become known as the Burned-Over District. The 13 November 1829 death of the daredevil Sam Patch was a frequent pulpit reference to the depravity that many saw taking hold ...

Article

Paul Finkelman and Alan Gallay

South Carolina was not the first mainland English colony to form a plantation society—Virginia preceded it by decades—but South Carolina was the only mainland colony where slavery was present from the initial settlement and where slaves made up a majority of the population. Many of the first white settlers came from the Caribbean and brought slaves with them. By 1712 slightly more than half the settlers were black slaves By the late 1730s the colony was two thirds slave In areas of the Lowcountry 70 to 90 percent of the inhabitants were African and African American This rice producing region created some of the richest families in America Dependent on slavery to generate their vast wealth they were wary sometimes frightened and occasionally terrified by being so outnumbered Little wonder that by the mid eighteenth century many wealthy slave owners became absentee planters a choice that grew increasingly popular ...

Article

Robert Fay

The Suez Canal is 195 km long (121 mi), and at least 60 m (200 ft) wide for its entire length, and permits direct passage from Europe and the Mediterranean Sea to the Indian Ocean, instead of the long voyage around the Cape of Good Hope in South Africa. The canal links the Mediterranean Sea at Port Said to the Red Sea at Suez by connecting a series of lakes: Lake Manzilah, Lake Timsah, and the Bitter Lakes. It has no locks, because these lakes lie nearly at sea level. In most places the canal has only one shipping lane; however, passing lanes exist at several points.

The canal was constructed by the French and Egyptian owned Compagnie Universelle du Canal Maritime de Suez Universal Company of the Suez Ocean Canal which had obtained a ninety nine year lease from the Egyptian viceroy Said Pasha After the expiration of ...

Article

Angela Bates

professional football player, businessman, and historic preservationist, was the youngest of six children born to Fred and Ora Switzer of Nicodemus, an all African American town in northwestern Kansas. He grew up playing football on the dusty dirt streets of Nicodemus. He liked fishing and hunting and especially helping with farm chores. He attended grade school at Nicodemus until the eighth grade and then attended nearby Bogue High School. While in high school he played on the football and basketball teams and ran track. He lettered each year in all three sports.

Upon graduation in 1950, Switzer entered Kansas State University as one of the first African Americans to receive a football scholarship to the university. While at Kansas State he lettered three years in both football and track and was named to the All Big Seven three years in a row. In 1952 Switzer ...

Article

Gregory D. Smithers

In the late sixteenth and early seventeenth centuries, European powers began the process of colonizing the new world of the Americas. Combining technological and financial capacity with scientific curiosity, European powers sailed across the Atlantic Ocean, searching for riches and establishing settlements in the Caribbean, South America, and North America. The earliest European settlers set the tenor for later settlement as they strove to establish pockets of civilization in what they saw as an untamed wilderness. Spanish colonizers, the historian Jane Landers argues, were guided by an “urban model.” She asserts that the Spanish believed that urban living facilitated “religious conversion, but, beyond that, Spaniards attached a special value to living a vida politica believing that people of reason distinguished themselves from nomadic barbarians by living in stable urban communities The English held similar views They spoke matter of factly about the importance of establishing dwellings and habitations on ...

Article

Peter Glenshaw

Established in 1790 under the direction of President George Washington and named in his honor, Washington, D.C., was created to meet the constitutional mandate for the establishment of a federal district. (Washington originally intended the city's name to be “District of Columbia” in honor of Christopher Columbus.) Established as a unique entity, separate from states, Washington, D.C., ironically has been hampered by its nether position, both in terms of race and voting rights. Located between Maryland, a state in the Union, and Virginia, which joined the Confederacy during the American Civil War (1861–1865), Washington has struggled throughout much of its existence to be a city for both the nation and local residents.

In 1800 the city's population of 14,103 persons comprised 10,066 whites, 783 free blacks, and 3,244 slaves. Designed principally by the French architect Pierre L'Enfant the survey for the city was completed in part ...