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Article

Kenneth Wayne Howell

cowboy and rancher, may have been born into slavery and escaped from bondage before the Civil War, though information about his life prior to his arrival in southwest Texas in the 1870s is limited. Based on stories he later told to his co-workers it seems likely that Adams spent his early adult life working as a cowboy in the brush country region of Texas, probably south and west of San Antonio. Given the circumstance of his birth and the times in which George came of age, he never received a formal education. As recent historical scholarship has made clear, black cowboys on the Texas plains enjoyed greater freedoms than did African Americans living in more settled regions of the state. However, their freedoms were always tainted by the persistent racism that prevailed during the late nineteenth and early twentieth centuries. George Adams's life was a vivid example of ...

Article

Charles Rosenberg

pioneer settler in Los Angeles County, California, in the 1850s, blacksmith, teamster, firewood salesman, and landowner, was born in Kentucky around 1827. Although it is commonly assumed that he had been enslaved there, he arrived in California a free man prior to the Civil War, and nothing has been established about his previous life.

He was married on 6 November 1859 to a woman named Amanda, born in Texas, by Jesse Hamilton, the earliest pastor of First African Methodist Episcopal church, Los Angeles. Their first two children, Dora and Julia, were born in 1857 and 1859. In 1860 the household included a laborer named Juan Jose, recorded by the census as being of Indian ancestry. Another man of African descent, Oscar Smith from Mississippi lived next door and no race was specified for the other neighbors who had either English or Hispanic names ...

Article

Robert H. Gudmestad

Black migration within colonial America was a result of the demand for labor and the dynamics of white migration in the region. As the American economy grew and settlers pushed into new territory, black migration increased and became a regular feature of life.

Article

Graham Russell Hodges and Thomas Adams Upchurch

[This entry contains two subentries dealing with black nationalism from the seventeenth century slave trade through the late nineteenth century The first article discusses the first formations of African national identities and the influence of various revolutions on black nationalism while the second focuses on the most significant figures ...

Article

Kathleen Thompson

Black women have been the cultural, social, and economic support of black towns in America for centuries. There were Senegalese enclaves in Louisiana in the 1700s. In the late eighteenth century, Star Hill, Delaware, was created by free blacks on land they acquired from the Quaker community in Camden. Brooklyn, Illinois, was founded by free blacks and fugitive slaves in 1820. As early as 1830, Frank McWhorter, or “Free Frank,” had founded the town of New Philadelphia, Illinois. Sandy Ground, New York, was created by black oyster fishermen fleeing the restrictions on free blacks in Maryland.

In 1825Elijah Roberts and his wife Kessiah led a group of free African Americans, many of whom were part Cherokee, from North Carolina to Hamilton County, Indiana, to start a settlement. Many of the settlers were members of the Roberts family, which had been free since 1734 ...

Article

Betti Carol VanEpps-Taylor

farmer, patriarch, and founder of the Sully County Colored Colony, Dakota Territory (South Dakota became a state in 1889), was born in slavery, probably in Tennessee, and was freed at Emancipation. He married Mary Elizabeth Bagby Blair, reported to be half Cherokee. With their six adult children they founded South Dakota's only successful black agricultural colony. Five years out of slavery the family was farming near Morris, Illinois, about fifty miles southwest of Chicago. With substantial personal property, they held their land “free and clear.” An oral tradition among South Dakota African Americans suggests that Blair's successful bloodline of fast horses, his unseemly prosperity, and his interest in expanding his lands aroused jealousy among his white neighbors in Illinois, prompting him to consider relocating to Dakota Territory.

Sully County, just east of present‐day Pierre, South Dakota, opened for settlement in April 1883 The following year Norval Blair ...

Article

Cathy Rodabaugh

The Burned-Over District was a region of Upstate New York significant to American social and religious history in the first half of the nineteenth century. Beginning around 1790, New Englanders moved west, bringing a culture that embraced religious enthusiasm to the fertile New York farmlands beyond the Catskill and Adirondack mountains. The agrarian villages and small cities populated by the migrants also reflected a traditional Puritan concern for morality and community values. Religious innovations and social movements nurtured in the district influenced the course of American progress well beyond the district's geographical and chronological boundaries.

Named for the intense fires of religious enthusiasm that erupted there regularly the Burned Over District was a national center for the series of revivals marking the Second Great Awakening which occurred in the early decades of the nineteenth century Mass conversions and social change characterized the venues of the revivals typically in rural ...

Article

Elizabeth Heath

In 1825 the Paris Société de Géographie offered a prize of 10,000 francs to the first person to visit the legendary city of Tombouctou and return with a description of it. With this challenge they made official an undeclared competition among European Explorers that had already claimed the lives of more than twenty men. Since 1788, explorers had been trying to reach the Sahelian market town, rumored to be the richest in Africa but also one of the most heavily guarded. Only one European, a Scottish explorer named Major Alexander Gordon Laing, had yet entered the fabled city, but he was murdered only days after leaving. However, in 1827 explorer René-Auguste Caillié, born in Mauzé, France, embarked on a journey to Tombouctou that would at last win the prize.

Inspired by the adventures of Daniel Defoe’s Robinson Crusoe (1719 Caillié had already made two voyages to ...

Article

Paul Finkelman

Spanish soldiers, priests, and settlers brought slaves and free blacks into California in the eighteenth century, and it is estimated that by the 1780s half of the non-Indian residents of Los Angeles were black, and most of these were slaves. A Spanish census in 1790 found that 18 percent of the colony was of African origin. Mexico abolished slavery following independence, and by the time of the Mexican War (1846–1848) the black population was a tiny percent of the total population. In 1845 William Leidsdorff, whose father was Danish and whose mother was a West Indian slave, was briefly in the American diplomatic corps, representing the interests of the United States government in California.

The gold rush led to a huge growth in the population and some southerners seeking to make their fortune brought their slaves with them The status of slavery in California illustrated the tension between ...

Article

Betti Carol VanEpps-Taylor

the first non-Indian woman to view the Black Hills. Conflicting information exists about her early years, but all sources agree that she was born in Kentucky, in 1813 or perhaps 1824. The 1813 date appeared in one of her obituaries. In later years she told of traveling up the Missouri River on the first steamboat in 1831, perhaps as a servant, cook, or lady's maid. Employment on the riverboats plying the Missouri River trade from St. Louis north during the mid-1800s provided opportunities for many black Americans to experience a measure of freedom, save some money, and have an adventure. Often they settled in one of the many northern river ports. Sarah Campbell made the most of that opportunity She worked many years on the river before purchasing property in the river town of Bismarck in present day North Dakota a territory when Campbell settled there North ...

Article

Canada  

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 ...

Article

Jeremy Rich

Christian missionary and promoter of African American settlement in Liberia, was born a slave in Charles City County, Virginia, United States, around 1780. Little is known of his early life, though his father was thought to have been a Baptist. In 1803, Cary’s master hired him out to work at the Shockoe tobacco warehouse in the nearby city of Richmond. Cary’s diligence and industriousness impressed his new employers, who began to pay him a wage after they had sent a set fee to Cary’s master. This extra money allowed Cary to save money for himself, so that one day he could buy his freedom and the liberty of his wife and two children. Although he accused himself of swearing often and carousing during his early years at the warehouse, Cary had a religious experience in 1807 and became a Baptist At this point he had never received any ...

Article

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 ...

Article

Born in Annan, Scotland, Hugh Clapperton went to sea at the age of thirteen and later became a lieutenant in the Royal Navy. In 1821 the British Colonial Office sent him, along with explorers Walter Oudney and Dixon Denham, on the Bornu Mission to trace the true course of the Niger River in Africa. They crossed the Sahara from Tripoli, in present-day Libya, and became the first Europeans to see Lake Chad, which Denham set off to explore on his own. From there, Clapperton and Oudney headed west into present-day Nigeria toward Kano, but Oudney died along the way and Clapperton reached it alone. He then traveled on to Sokoto but, detained by local rulers, was unable to find a guide to take him the 240 km (150 mi) to the Niger. He returned briefly to England before coming back to West Africa in 1825 With British ...

Article

Minor Ferris Buchanan

slave, soldier, hunter, guide, and pioneer, was born on Home Hill plantation, Jefferson County, Mississippi, the son of slaves Harrison and Daphne Collier. Little is known of Daphne Collier, although it is believed that she had some Native American ancestry. In 1815Harrison Collier accompanied the famed General Thomas Hinds when he fought alongside General Andrew Jackson during the War of 1812 at the Battle of New Orleans. As house servants the Colliers maintained a higher status on the plantation, and from all indications young Holt was a favorite of the Hinds family. At age ten he was taken into the upriver wilderness to serve as a juvenile valet and hostler on Plum Ridge plantation in what would later become known as Washington County in the Mississippi Delta.

At Plum Ridge plantation Holt was trained to hunt and kill anything that could be used as food for the growing ...

Article

Paul Finkelman and Philippe R. Girard

Throughout the nineteenth century, activists of various racial and political backgrounds drafted plans to remove all free blacks and freed slaves from the United States. Sending settlers to Africa was the most commonly proposed means for doing this, but the difficulty and expense associated with back-to-Africa schemes also encouraged similar plans involving Haiti, Mexico, and Canada. Overall, emigration never came close to levels sufficient to reduce the black population in the United States.

The idea of colonization stemmed from the understanding in the Revolutionary period that slavery posed grave threats to the Republic but that a free black population might also undermine the new nation Thus for some Americans any emancipation had to be tied to expatriation Ironically the first steps toward colonization came from the British who evacuated over 10 000 former slaves from the United States at the end of the Revolution About 3 500 of these former ...

Article

Efforts to colonize African Americans to Africa began at the time of the Revolutionary War. In 1777, the Virginia legislature discussed Thomas Jefferson's proposal for the colonization of the state's free blacks. Proponents of colonization represented diverse interest groups, including blacks and whites, northerners and southerners, as well as proslavery advocates and antislavery leaders. Some colonization supporters believed that whites and African Americans could never live together peacefully in the United States and that African Americans should therefore return to Africa. A number ofslavery s advocates wished to relocate the southern free black population to Africa in order to create a southern society comprised exclusively of enslaved blacks and free whites Some abolitionists supported the movement because they believed that colonization would result in the gradual emancipation of slaves by proving that African Americans were self reliant Other colonization supporters argued that American blacks could go ...

Article

David H. Anthony

adventurer, mariner, and African emigrationist, was born to Susan Cuffe and John Dean in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania. Harry Foster Dean followed the family profession when he decided to become a seafarer. By the age of thirteen he was on an around-the-world cruise captained by his Uncle Silas. A decade later he had made his way to Southampton, England, where he was mentored by a Captain Forbes. He later reported that he won his captain's license in that port, beginning a new phase in his life. According to Dean, his mother, Susan, was a granddaughter of the black Yankee Paul Cuffe As the progeny of the Cuffe family Dean considered himself a black aristocrat Since Cuffe was a merchant and back to Africa advocate Dean dreamed of reversing the effects and trajectories of the Middle Passage and removing himself to his ancestral continent of origin Much of what ...

Article

Detroit  

Stephanie J. Wilhelm

From its establishment as a territory through its statehood and involvement with the Underground Railroad, Michigan had an intimate relationship with the institution of slavery. The city of Detroit, specifically, was the cornerstone of antislavery activity in Michigan. Known as the gateway or door to freedom, Detroit served as a safe haven for many runaway slaves before they secured their freedom across the Detroit River into Canada. Detroit's significance as a geographical location on the Underground Railroad was further reinforced when Frederick Douglass, John Brown, and many other leading abolitionists met in the city in March 1859 to discuss possible ways of subverting the Fugitive Slave Law of 1850. This meeting, along with the coordinated efforts of others who worked tirelessly on the Underground Railroad, underscores the integral role the people of Detroit played in securing the freedom of thousands of slaves.

Long before European explorers arrived ...

Article

Jean Baptiste Pointe Du Sable's biography combines conjecture and lore with a few established facts. He was probably born in St. Marc, Saint Domingue (present-day Haiti) around 1750 to a French mariner and an African-born slave. He may have been educated in Paris and employed as a sailor during his young adult life. Du Sable entered North America through either Louisiana or French Canada, and first appeared in historical documents in 1779, when a British officer in the Great Lakes region reported that the local trader “Baptist Point de Sable” was “much in the interest of the French.”

The British detained Du Sable for suspected “intercourse with the enemy,” but he soon impressed his captors as a well-educated and highly capable frontiersman. British governor Patrick Sinclair sent Du Sable to the Saint Clair River region to manage trade and serve as a liaison between Native Americans and ...