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Article

Rob Fink

As African Americans fought racial prejudice in the United States following the Civil War, some black leaders proposed a strategy of accommodation. The idea of accommodation called for African Americans to work with whites and accept some discrimination in an effort to achieve economic success and physical security. The idea proved controversial: many black leaders opposed accommodation as counterproductive.

Booker T. Washington served as the champion of accommodation. Born a slave in 1856 Washington received a degree from the Hampton Institute before being invited to head up the Tuskegee Institute in Alabama At Tuskegee Washington used industrial education to promote accommodation by African Americans Because of his background Washington recognized the difficulties faced by southern blacks in their quest for civil rights He knew firsthand that during the 1860s and 1870s whites in the South found it hard to accept African Americans as free No one argued against the ...

Article

L. Diane Barnes

Founded in December 1816, the American Colonization Society (ACS) was the first national organization to take on the problem of slavery in the United States. The ACS proposed an expatriation scheme to rid the nation of slavery and of free African Americans. The prominent founders Charles Fenton Mercer, Henry Clay, Daniel Webster, and others secured federal funding and in 1822 founded the colony of Liberia on Africa's west coast as the destination for America's blacks.

Even before the founding of the ACS, the colonization of African Americans was an issue that divided both whites and blacks. Some African Americans supported colonization, arguing that free blacks would never be fully included in the white-dominated society of the United States. Others argued just as forcibly that blacks were entitled to full rights as American citizens and should remain to fight on behalf of their race.

The ACS drew ...

Article

Diane L. Barnes

The American Missionary Association formed in 1846 in Albany, New York, as an alliance of Christian abolitionists who chose not to associate with the existing missionary agencies operated by various Protestant denominations. The spark for the formation of the association dates to the plight of the Amistad captives in 1839. This group of Africans enslaved in violation of international law successfully revolted against their captors aboard a Spanish slave ship—but ended up on trial in the United States when the ship drifted into a harbor on Long Island, New York. The well-publicized trial led many northern abolitionists to push mainstream missionary organizations, including the American Board of Commissioners for Foreign Missions, to assist the Amistad voyagers in their return to Africa but the organizations refused The frustrations of these Christian abolitionists led to the formation of three groups the Union Missionary Society the Western Evangelical Mission Society and ...

Article

Alonford James Robinson

The period in American history known as Reconstruction (1865–1877) gave emancipated slaves an unprecedented opportunity to participate in American society. Opportunities were opened in education, race relations, public facilities, and employment. Perhaps most important, African American men were given the right to vote and hold public office. By 1877, during the period referred to as Redemption, Southern whites began to wipe away many of these newfound freedoms, including the right to vote. By 1895, thirty-two years after emancipation, African Americans faced the virtual elimination of their freedoms and new challenges in their struggle for justice and equality.

In this context, Booker T. Washington, the founder of Tuskegee Institute (now Tuskegee University), addressed the Atlanta exposition in 1895 Formally known as the Cotton States and International Exposition the exhibit provided Washington with the opportunity to address one of the most urgent issues facing ...

Article

The turning point of Booker T. Washington's tenure as African American leader was his address to the Cotton States and International Exposition at Atlanta in 1895. Before the address, referred to as “The Atlanta Compromise Address” or “The Atlanta Exposition Address,” Washington was the head of the Tuskegee Institute in Atlanta;afterward, he was the acknowledged leader of the African American people.

Washington s address essentially ratified the status quo in southern race relations which had been on a decline since Reconstruction In the speech he called for African Americans to work for their salvation through economic advancement and for southern whites to help them on this path To those of my race who depend on bettering their condition in a foreign land or who underestimate the importance of cultivating friendly relations with the Southern white man who is their next neighbor I would say cast down your bucket ...

Article

Erin L. Thompson

Major movements of the black population within the United States began with the importations of the slave trade and continued with the movements of runaway slaves. After they were emancipated, many blacks moved to the North and West to find economic opportunities; some, disappointed, returned to the South. Blacks have also migrated to the United States from other countries, notably those in Africa and the Caribbean.

Article

Joseph P. Reidy

Bradley, Aaron Alpeora (1815?– October 1882), Reconstruction politician, was born in Edgefield District, South Carolina, the son of unknown slaves on the plantation of Francis Pickens, a prominent politician. Little is known of Bradley’s youth and early manhood other than that he was a shoemaker for a time in Augusta, Georgia, and that he escaped slavery and made his way to the North, apparently during the 1830s. He lived for a time in New York and in Boston. In the latter city he not only met abolitionists but also studied the law and eventually became a practicing attorney.

The Civil War opened new horizons. Bradley returned south late in 1865 and settled in Savannah, Georgia, intending, it seems, to open a law practice and a school. Drawn inexorably to the public arena, he began to champion the cause of freedpeople who were resisting President Andrew Johnson ...

Article

Penny Anne Welbourne

William Wells Brown was the son of Elizabeth, a slave on a plantation near Lexington, Kentucky. Because of his mother's status, William was also a slave, even though his father was the white half brother of the plantation's owner. While William was still an infant, his master, Dr. John Young, acquired a farm in Missouri, and the boy and his mother were taken there. At the age of eight, William worked as an assistant in Young's medical practice, where he continued to work until he was twelve. At that point the doctor was elected to the state legislature, and the young slave was forced to work in the fields.

Because Young was frequently in need of money he would lease William to other masters many of whom had overseers who beat and humiliated the young man One who did treat him well was Elijah P Lovejoy who published a ...

Article

John W. Pulis and David Simonelli

[This entry contains two subentries dealing with the Caribbean from 1492 through 1895 The first article discusses the Caribbean slave trade the transmission of cultural identities and the Caribbean s influence on North America while the second article discusses the 1834 emancipation of slaves in the Caribbean and annual ...

Article

James Brewer Stewart

Causes

Military and Diplomatic Course

Domestic Effects

Changing Interpretations

Article

Elizabeth Regosin

During Reconstruction and for years afterward, African American women exercised their citizenship rights in a variety of ways, including pursuing military pensions from the United States Pension Bureau. The law of 14 July 1862 which was the basis of the Civil War pension system extended this fundamental right of citizenship recompense for serving one s country and the corollary right of widows and other dependent relatives to compensation for the loss of a provider to all eligible Union soldiers and their relatives regardless of race Considerable numbers of freedwomen and free women of color alike pursued pensions from the federal government However because the majority of African American soldiers who fought in the Civil War came from the South and had been enslaved the emphasis here is on the pension records of former slaves In significant ways freedwomen s experiences with the pension system reflected their experiences as citizens ...

Article

Class  

Graham Russell Hodges

The discussion of class among African Americans in the centuries before the industrial revolution encountered significant conceptual difficulties Did class as the philosopher Karl Marx described it exist among a people who were almost entirely enslaved African Americans were industrial laborers in parts of the early United States but the vast majority were agricultural workers whose skills and statuses seem superficially to have been interchangeable At the same time the great transformation occurring in white society from feudalism to capitalism entailed the commodification of money land and labor African Americans lives were inextricably entwined in each of these changes Undoubtedly exploitation helped create the capital value of landowner and merchant African Americans also made themselves African American slaves can be viewed as the first true proletarians in America A leading scholar of early African American business argues cogently that race not class was the key variable for African Americans Examination ...

Article

Franklin W. Knight

The term coartación was used in Spain's American colonies to denote the practice of establishing a fixed price at which any slave could purchase his or her freedom on an installment plan. Theoretically this insulated the market mechanism of self-purchase from the individual whim of the master, but theory and practice were not necessarily reconciled in the American world of masters and slaves. Thus the custom varied considerably throughout the Americas (with equivalents existing in the non-Hispanic slave colonies) based on population mix, the nature of the economy, and its demand for slave labor, as well as the locally prevailing mores of masters and slaves.

Exactly when the term established itself in association with Spanish-American slavery is not clear. By the eighteenth century it had entered legal and political discourse. Fernando Ortiz suggests that coartación first appeared in Spanish laws in 1712 It formed an important part of the ...

Article

Paul Finkelman and David Quigley

Slavery appeared early in the history of colonial Connecticut. Records indicate that in 1639 an enslaved African was killed by his Dutch owner in Hartford. Unlike Massachusetts and Rhode Island, however, Connecticut conducted its colonial slave trade with merchants and sailors playing only minor roles.

Connecticut's African American population clustered in a few port towns. Almost one-half of all blacks in the colony in 1774 lived in the coastal counties of New London and Fairfield. In that year 49 percent of Connecticut blacks were under the age of twenty, a substantially lower percentage than that of the colony's white community. Across New England, colonial African Americans had low birth rates.

Connecticut stood apart from the rest of the New England colonies in the intensity of its restrictions on the free black community. In 1718 the colonial assembly passed a law denying blacks the right to buy land and enacted ...

Article

Deborah Garfield

Born to slaves, Lucy Delaney cherished her St. Louis childhood. Like Frederick Douglass and Harriet A. Jacobs, however, she soon witnessed the breach between its “joyful freedom” and slavery's later realities. When owner Major Taylor Berry, who had arranged for the family's emancipation, was killed in a duel, and his widow died, the family remained enslaved. With Lucy's father sold South, mother Polly fiercely urged her two daughters’ escape. While Nancy fled to Canada and Polly to Chicago, the latter returned to bondage to protect Lucy. Polly successfully petitioned the St. Louis courts for her own liberation, and later for Lucy's in 1844 Visiting Nancy in Toronto Lucy wed Frederick Turner soon to be killed in a steamboat explosion her second marriage to Zachariah Delaney in St Louis endured at least forty two years When their four children died young Delaney tempered her mourning with a liberationist ...

Article

Kevin D. Roberts

The demographics of African Americans in early America were influenced significantly by the transatlantic and domestic slave trades, the westward and southwestward expansion of slavery, and steadily improving rates of natural increase. From 1619, when the first Africans arrived in colonial America, to 1830, when the black enslaved population numbered 2 million, a significant social and cultural shift from African-dominated communities to native-born communities occurred.

In 1619 the demographic phenomenon that became black America began in Virginia when “twenty-odd Negroes” arrived on a Dutch sloop. Accorded the status of indentured servants, these Africans planted the roots that would later flower into thousands of black descendants. The first person of African descent to be born in the American colonies, a child named William, was born in 1624. By 1649 a census conducted in the colony enumerated three hundred people of African descent almost all of whom were ...

Article

Teri A. McMurtry-Chubb and William Pencak

[This entry contains two subentries dealing with discrimination against African Americans from the early seventeenth century through 1895 The first article discusses the evolution of federal laws and abusive perceptions that disenfranchised African Americans to 1830 while the second article discusses the development of separate institutions and organizations through ...

Article

Paul A. Minifee

The second of eight children born to Caroline and Jermain Loguen, Helen Amelia Loguen grew up in Syracuse, New York, where her parents were heavily involved in the abolitionist movement. Educated by her mother and local public schools, Amelia studied chemistry, French, and trigonometry. Her father was a bishop of the American Methodist Episcopal (AME) Zion Church and a prominent abolitionist, who employed their home as a depot for fugitive slaves on the Underground Railroad and opened schools for African Americans in Utica and Syracuse. Amelia's mother came from a prosperous family of farmers in Busti, New York. Caroline's father, William Storum was a free black and one of three citizens in Chautauqua County to vote for abolitionists evidencing his politics and prosperity since New York required blacks to own at least $250 of property in order to vote An active abolitionist himself Storum utilized his farm as ...

Article

Leigh Fought

The enigmatic first wife of Frederick Douglass, Anna Murray Douglass, has been misunderstood and misrepresented by historians as well as by her husband's associates since he first rose to fame in 1842. Her early life, including her birth and parentage, remain sparsely documented. Most historians agree that she was the daughter of Bambarra and Mary Murray, emancipated slaves from Denton in Caroline County, Maryland. As a young adult she lived in Baltimore, Maryland, working as a housekeeper and laundress in white homes. Despite refusing to demonstrate reading or writing skills throughout her life, she clearly had some interest in self-improvement in her youth because she first met Frederick Douglass, then known as Frederick Bailey, through mutual friends at the East Baltimore Mental Improvement Society, an organization of free blacks who promoted literacy.

The two had met by the late summer of 1838 when Anna sold many of ...

Article

Eric Gardner

The oldest child of Harriet Bailey, Downs was born enslaved to Aaron Anthony, the overseer for Colonel Edward Lloyd, a wealthy planter on Maryland's Eastern Shore. Like his younger brother Frederick Douglass, Downs probably saw his mother only intermittently, as Anthony regularly hired her out; Downs was reared by his grandmother Betsey Bailey and the extended kinship network of Bailey's relatives and children. Douglass's autobiographies relate only two stories of Downs's childhood, both of which speak directly to the complexity of a child's life as a slave. When Douglass was brought from his grandmother's cabin to live on Lloyd's plantation, Wye House, in late 1824, Downs tried to comfort the frightened six-year-old with gifts of peaches and pears. Days later, Downs—only eleven years old himself—was savagely beaten by Anthony.

When Anthony died in 1827 his slaves were divided among his heirs Douglass was sent to ...