African American Artisans in New Bern, North Carolina, 1770-1900
Publication Year: 2013
Drawing upon myriad sources, Bishir brings to life men and women who employed their trade skills, sense of purpose, and community relationships to work for liberty and self-sufficiency, to establish and protect their families, and to assume leadership in churches and associations and in New Bern's dynamic political life during and after the Civil War. Focusing on their words and actions, Crafting Lives provides a new understanding of urban southern black artisans' unique place in the larger picture of American artisan identity.
Published by: The University of North Carolina Press
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Title Page, Copyright, Dedication
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As an artisan of color, New Bern tailor John Rice Green (1793–1850) lived a life of paradox. Born a slave and apprenticed to a white master tailor, he learned and practiced his trade in bondage as did most black artisans in the South. By working extra hours he saved the money to obtain his freedom in young adulthood while also teaching himself to read and write. After his emancipation in 1818, he became a prosperous master craftsman ...
ONE: The Setting: New Bern from the Colonial Period to 1900
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...disorderly persons resort to in the night time as well as in the Subordination of the Slaves and free Negroes is lessened. It is For most of its history, New Bern, North Carolina, was a majority-black community in which people of every color and condition interacted daily. Some aspects of its story diﬀered from those of other southern cities, just as those cities diﬀered among themselves. Among the town’s ...
TWO: The Fruits of Honest Industry: Black Artisans in New Bern’s “Golden Age,” 1770–1830
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The notice in the New Bern newspaper described a small object in simple terms intended to restore it to its owner. The wording also implied much about the owner’s identity and the community in which he lived and worked. The specialized tool indicated that he cut and installed window panes as part of his trade. Its diamond head, for scoring precise lines, identified it as an implement of high quality, and its monogrammed handle ...
THREE: Hundreds of Fine Artisans: Leaving and Staying, 1830–1861
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...for Fayetteville, and this certificate is given as testimony of Cicero M. Richardson set out from New Bern to enter an apprentice-ship with Fayetteville free black brickmason Jacob Harris, inaugurat-ing what would prove to be a long and successful career as a brickmason and plasterer. His journey came early in a period of mounting challenges for New Bern’s artisans of color. Local economic problems and the state’s ...
FOUR: Worthy to Be Free, Worthy to Be Respected: Civil War, Union Occupation, and Presidential Reconstruction, 1862–1866
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...the evil influences and tendencies of slavery, there has always among us, ought to settle the question of our capability for such things. . . . Surely the great eﬀort of our friends at the North, and the heroic deeds of colored men on the battle field, will so far In his letter to the Christian Recorder, John Randolph set forth his long-held hopes for freedom and citizenship at a time when such goals loomed at...
FIVE: We Can and Will Do More: Artisans and Citizens, 1867–1900
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...we please—free to stay with our loved ones, free to work for our when, where and how we please, free to educate ourselves and our children and elevate our condition thereby higher and higher. . . . And now that we are free, we will show to the world what we can make ourselves. The day has gone by when it was said of us we had no brain ...
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From the eve of the American Revolution to the turn of the twentieth cen-tury, skilled black workers in New Bern, North Carolina, demonstrated the multiple possibilities of crafting identities as American artisans and citi-zens. Like their counterparts throughout the nation, they employed tech-niques learned through apprenticeships or from family members to make ...
Appendix: Biographical Summaries
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It is a pleasure to recall the many people who have made this book possible. Its history began during research in the 1970s for Architects and Builders: A History of the Practice of Building (1990) by Catherine W. Bishir, Charlotte V. Brown, Carl R. Lounsbury, and Ernest Wood III, with research assistance from J. Marshall Bullock and William Bushong. We sought to learn more about the often unsung people who created our state’s architec-...
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Page Count: 392
Illustrations: 2 line drawings, 1 map
Publication Year: 2013