First Fruits of Freedom
The Migration of Former Slaves and Their Search for Equality in Worcester, Massachusetts, 1862-1900
Publication Year: 2010
Published by: The University of North Carolina Press
Title Page, Copyright, Dedication
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This book grew out of a seminar on black Worcester that I co-taught my first year at Clark University with my colleague Sally Deutsch, in conjunction with the Worcester Historical Museum. Saadia Wiggins Lawton...
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In June 1862, amidst news from the Civil War battlefront, the Worcester Daily Spy announced the “arrival of a ‘Contraband’”— a slave who had absconded to the safety of Union lines in search of freedom. The refugee had just come from New Bern, North Carolina, where he...
1. The Guns of War
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As chattering telegraphs relayed the news of the Confederate attack on Fort Sumter to towns, villages, and cities across the nation, many Americans, both North and South, seemed to welcome the news with a sense of relief. In retrospect, their reaction seems an odd way to greet...
2. The Prettiest Blue Mens I Had Ever Seed
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In the fall and early winter of 1861, the 15th Massachusetts Volunteer Infantry regrouped at Poolesville, Maryland, veterans of the disastrous battle at Ball’s Bluff. The unit had sustained well over a hundred casualties in what would prove to be a mere taste of the bloodshed they would suffer...
3. These Are the Children of This Revolution, the Promising First Fruits of the War
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Worcester’s incensed soldiers and citizenry soon responded to the crisis in New Bern with more than words of moral indignation. The calamity precipitated by Governor Stanly resulted in the first of what ultimately would be hundreds of New Bern’s former slaves resettling...
4. A New Promise of Freedom and Dignity
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The morning of 4 July 1865 was greeted in Worcester with an anticipation and excitement not experienced in years. For the previous two months, townspeople— from schoolchildren to captains of industry— had prepared for a celebration worthy of the momentous Union victory...
5. A Community within a Community
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On the afternoon of 22 June 1891, members of the Mount Olive Baptist Church gathered to lay the cornerstone for their new church on John Street in Worcester. Joined by representatives from the city’s two other black...
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Historian William McFeely, in Sapelo’s People, his masterful portrait of a Georgia Sea Island community, writes, “African-Americans’ anger may derive as much from the broken promises of Reconstruction as from slavery itself. So much promise was held out...
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Page Count: 256
Illustrations: 2 line drawings, 1 map
Publication Year: 2010