The Underground Railroad and the Politics of Slavery
Publication Year: 2013
Blackett highlights the lives of those who escaped, the impact of the fugitive slave cases, and the extent to which slaves planning to escape were aided by free blacks, fellow slaves, and outsiders who went south to entice them to escape. Using these stories of particular individuals, moments, and communities, Blackett shows how slave flight shaped national politics as the South witnessed slavery beginning to collapse and the North experienced a threat to its freedom.
Published by: The University of North Carolina Press
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Title Page, Copyright
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Many years ago, while working on a study of the role African Americans played in the transatlantic abolitionist movement, I ran across William and Ellen Craft, former slaves who were enormously popular with British audiences. Following up their story, I discovered that they had escaped from slavery in Macon, Georgia, over the 1848 Christmas holidays. ...
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Over the last few years, there has been reawakened interest in the operations of the Underground Railroad (UGRR), an interest that has risen to levels not seen since the 1890s, when the children of those involved in aiding slaves escape sought to preserve (and some would say glorify) the memory of their parents ...
1. Making Their Way to Freedom
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“I find myself in a Position to address you a few lines and I hope that they may find you in as good health as I am myself in.” There is nothing unconventional about this opening salutation except that it was written by a slave to his master soon after he had escaped. ...
2. The Workings of the 1850 Fugitive Slave Law
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In August, as Congress put the finishing touches on the Fugitive Slave Law, which, in the eyes of the South, was the political fulcrum on which the entire 1850 Compromise turned, eight slaves from Clarke County in Virginia’s Shenandoah Valley arrived in Harrisburg, Pennsylvania, followed closely by their owners and slave catchers. ...
3. Taking Leave: Fugitive Slaves and the Politics of Slavery
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On April 14, 1860, almost one year to the day before the outbreak of the Civil War, Nathan James, a free black, and Alfred Savage, a slave drayman, took a large pine box to the Adams Express Company office in Nashville, Tennessee, and arranged to have it shipped to Hannah Johnson—very likely a fictitious person—in Cincinnati, Ohio c/o Levi Coffin. ...
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In May 1858, William Connelly, a thirty-year-old former reporter for the Cincinnati Commercial announced that he would reveal the workings of the UGRR. It was a startling declaration, the sort of news opponents of the largely secret organization had been seeking for years. ...
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Page Count: 136
Illustrations: 2 line drawings, 1 map
Publication Year: 2013
Series Title: The Steven and Janice Brose Lectures in the Civil War Era