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History > U.S. History > 19th Century

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Brothers to the Buffalo Soldiers Cover

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Brothers to the Buffalo Soldiers

Perspectives on the African American Militia and Volunteers, 1865-1917

Bruce A. Glasrud

 

During the late nineteenth and early twentieth centuries, African American men were seldom permitted to join the United States armed forces. There had been times in early U.S. history when black and white men fought alongside one another; it was not uncommon for integrated units to take to battle in the Revolutionary War. But by the War of 1812, the United States had come to maintain what one writer called “a whitewashed army.” Yet despite that opposition, during the early 1800s, militia units made up of free black soldiers came together to aid the official military troops in combat.

 

            Many black Americans continued to serve in times of military need. Nearly 180,000 African Americans served in units of the U.S. Colored Troops during the Civil War, and others, from states such as Massachusetts, Rhode Island, Missouri, and Kansas, participated in state militias organized to protect local populations from threats of Confederate invasion. As such, the Civil War was a turning point in the acceptance of black soldiers for national defense. By 1900, twenty-two states and the District of Columbia had accepted black men into some form of military service, usually as state militiamen—brothers to the “buffalo soldiers” of the regular army regiments, but American military men regardless.

 

Little has been published about them, but Brothers to the Buffalo Soldiers: Perspectives on the African American Militia and Volunteers, 1865–1919, offers insights into the varied experiences of black militia units in the post–Civil War period. The book includes eleven articles that focus either on “Black Participation in the Militia” or “Black Volunteer Units in the War with Spain.” The articles, collected and introduced by author and scholar Bruce A. Glasrud, provide an overview of the history of early black citizen-soldiers and offer criticism from prominent academics interested in that experience.

 

Brothers to the Buffalo Soldiers discusses a previously little-known aspect of the black military experience in U.S. history, while deliberating on the discrimination these men faced both within and outside the military. Chosen on the bases of scholarship, balance, and readability, these articles provide a rare composite picture of the black military man’s life during this period. Brothers to the Buffalo Soldiers offers both a valuable introductory text for students of military studies and a solid source of material for African American historians.

Buffalo Nation Cover

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Buffalo Nation

American Indian Efforts to Restore the Bison

Ken Zontek

The gruesome story of the devastation of buffalo herds in the late nineteenth century has become uncomfortably familiar. A less familiar story, but a hopeful one for the future, is Ken Zontek’s account of Native peoples’ efforts to repopulate the Plains with a healthy, viable bison population. Interspersing scientific hypothesis with Native oral traditions and interviews, Buffalo Nation provides a brief history of bison and human interaction from the Paleolithic era to present preservation efforts.
 
Zontek’s history of bison restoration efforts is also a history of North American Native peoples’ pursuit of political and cultural autonomy, revealing how Native peoples’ ability to help the bison has fluctuated with their overall struggle. Beginning in the 1870s, Native North Americans established captive bison breeding programs despite the Wounded Knee Massacre and a massive onslaught on Native cultural and religious practices. These preservation efforts were so successful that a significant percentage of bison today carry the bloodlines of these original Native-sponsored herds. At the end of the twentieth century, more than fifty tribes banded together to form the Intertribal Bison Cooperative. This group has made significant progress in restoring bison herds in the United States, while Canadian First Nations work with national parks and other government entities to select and manage free-ranging herds.
 
Buffalo Nation offers insights into the ways that the Native North American effort to restore the buffalo nation inspires discourse in cultural perseverance, environmentalism, politics, regionalism, spirituality, and the very essence of human-animal interaction.

Burying the Dead but Not the Past Cover

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Burying the Dead but Not the Past

Ladies' Memorial Associations and the Lost Cause

Caroline E. Janney

Immediately after the Civil War, white women across the South organized to retrieve and rebury the remains of Confederate soldiers scattered throughout the region. In Virginia alone, these Ladies' Memorial Associations (LMAs) relocated and reinterred the remains of more than 72,000 soldiers, nearly 28 percent of the 260,000 Confederate soldiers who perished in the war. Challenging the notion that southern white women were peripheral to the Lost Cause movement until the 1890s, Caroline Janney restores these women's place in the historical narrative by exploring their role as the creators and purveyors of Confederate tradition between 1865 and 1915.

But One Race Cover

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But One Race

The Life of Robert Purvis

Born in South Carolina to a wealthy white father and mixed race mother, Robert Purvis (1810–1898) was one of the nineteenth century’s leading black abolitionists and orators. In this first biography of Purvis, Margaret Hope Bacon uses his eloquent and often fierce speeches to provide a glimpse into the life of a passionate and distinguished man, intimately involved with a wide range of major reform movements, including abolition, civil rights, Underground Railroad activism, women’s rights, Irish Home Rule, Native American rights, and prison reform. Citing his role in developing the Philadelphia Vigilant Committee, an all black organization that helped escaped slaves secure passage to the North, the New York Times described Purvis at the time of his death as the president of the Underground Railroad. Voicing his opposition to a decision by the state of Pennsylvania to disenfranchise black voters in 1838, Purvis declared “there is but one race, the human race.” But One Race is the dramatic story of one of the most important figures of his time.

Californio Voices Cover

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Californio Voices

The Oral Memoirs of Jose Maria Amador and Lorenzo Asisara

Translated and edited by Gregorio Mora-Torres

In the early 1870s, Hubert H. Bancroft and his assistants set out to record the memoirs of early Californios, one of them being eighty-three-year-old Don José María Amador, a former “Forty-Niner” during the California Gold Rush and soldado de cuera at the Presidio of San Francisco. Amador tells of reconnoitering expeditions into the interior of California, where he encountered local indigenous populations. He speaks of political events of Mexican California and the widespread confiscation of the Californios’ goods, livestock, and properties when the United States took control. A friend from Mission Santa Cruz, Lorenzo Asisara, also describes the harsh life and mistreatment the Indians faced from the priests. Both the Amador and Asisara narratives were used as sources in Bancroft’s writing but never published themselves. Gregorio Mora-Torres has now rescued them from obscurity and presents their voices in English translation (with annotations) and in the original Spanish on facing pages. This bilingual edition will be of great interest to historians of the West, California, and Mexican American studies. “This book presents a very convincing and interesting narrative about Mexican California. Its frankness and honesty are refreshing.”–Richard Griswold del Castillo, San Diego State University

The Cana Sanctuary Cover

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The Cana Sanctuary

History, Diplomacy, and Black Catholic Marriage in Antebellum St. Augustine, Florida

Frank Marotti

The Cana Sanctuary uses the collective testimony from more than two hundred Patriot War claims, previously believed to have been destroyed, to offer insight into the lesser-known Patriot War of 1812 and to constitute an intellectual history of everyday people caught in the path of an expanding American empire.
 
In the late seventeenth century a group of about a dozen escaped African slaves from the English colony of Carolina reached the Spanish settlement of St. Augustine. In a diplomatic bid for sanctuary, to avoid extradition and punishment, they requested the sacrament of Catholic baptism from the Spanish Catholic Church. Their negotiations brought about their baptism and with it their liberation. The Cana Sanctuary focuses on what author Frank Marotti terms “folk diplomacy”—political actions conducted by marginalized, non-state sectors of society—in this instance by formerly enslaved African Americans in antebellum East Florida. The book explores the unexpected transformations that occurred in seventeenth- and eighteenth-century St. Augustine as more and more ex-slaves arrived to find their previously disregarded civil rights upheld under sacred codes by an international, nongovernmental, authoritative organization.
 
With the Catholic Church acting as an equalizing, empowering force for escaped African slaves, the Spanish religious sanctuary policy became part of popular historical consciousness in East Florida. As such, it allowed for continual confrontations between the law of the Church and the law of the South. Tensions like these survived, ultimately lending themselves to an “Afro-Catholicism” sentiment that offered support for antislavery arguments.

Canal Fever Cover

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Canal Fever

The Ohio & Erie Canal, from Waterway to Canalway

Edited by Lynn Metzger and Peg Bobel, Illustrations by Chuck Ayers

Original essays on the past, present, and future of the Ohio & Erie Canal

Combining original essays based on the past, present, and future of the Ohio & Erie Canal, Canal Fever showcases the research and writing of the best and most knowledgeable canal historians, archaeologists, and enthusiasts. Each contributor brings his or her expertise to tell the canal’s story in three parts: the canal era—the creation of the canal and its importance to Ohio’s early growth; the canal’s decline—the decades when the canal was merely a ditch and path in backyards all over northeast Ohio; and finally the rediscovery of this old transportation system and its transformation into a popular recreational resource, the Ohio & Erie Canalway.

Included are many voices from the past, such as canalers, travelers, and immigrants, stories of canal use through various periods, and current interviews with many individuals involved in the recent revitalization of the canal. Accompanying the essays are a varied and interesting selection of photographs of sites, events, and people, as well as original maps and drawings by artist Chuck Ayers.

Canal Fever takes a broad approach to the canal and what it has meant to Ohio from its original function in the state’s growth its present-day function in revitalizing our region. Canal buffs, historians, educators, engineers, and those interested in urban revitalization will appreciate its extensive use of primary source materials and will welcome this comprehensive collection.

Capital Intentions Cover

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Capital Intentions

Female Proprietors in San Francisco, 1850-1920

Edith Sparks

Late nineteenth-century San Francisco was an ethnically diverse but male-dominated society bustling from a rowdy gold rush, earthquakes, and explosive economic growth. Within this booming marketplace, some women stepped beyond their roles as wives, caregivers, and homemakers to start businesses that combined family concerns with money-making activities. Edith Sparks traces the experiences of these women entrepreneurs, exploring who they were, why they started businesses, how they attracted customers and managed finances, and how they dealt with failure. Using a unique sample of bankruptcy records, credit reports, advertisements, city directories, census reports, and other sources, Sparks argues that women were competitive, economic actors, strategizing how best to capitalize on their skills in the marketplace. Their boardinghouses, restaurants, saloons, beauty shops, laundries, and clothing stores dotted the city's landscape. By the early twentieth century, however, technological advances, new preferences for name-brand goods, and competition from large-scale retailers constricted opportunities for women entrepreneurs at the same time that new opportunities for women with families drew them into other occupations. Sparks's analysis demonstrates that these businesswomen were intimately tied to the fortunes of the city over its first seventy years. Sparks investigates the motivations and challenges of women who started and managed small businesses in late 19th- and early 20th-century San Francisco. Often motivated by the desire to generate income and profit, but bound by law and custom to act principally as wives, care givers, and homemakers, these women stepped beyond the Victorian image of womanhood and combined the two activities by starting businesses that fit the caretaker paradigm (such as boarding houses, millineries, hair salons, etc.). By joining private/family and public/profit concerns, Sparks argues, female proprietors challenged attempts to separate those two worlds in women's lives. Sparks explores what kind of women started businesses, why they started them, and how they operated them by attracting customers and managing finances, and how they dealt with failure. By focusing on one city, Sparks gives an up-close analysis of how these businesswomen and their enterprises were intimately tied to the fortunes of the city over its first 70 years. Late 19th-century San Francisco was a booming marketplace in which some women stepped beyond their roles as wives, caregivers, and homemakers to start businesses that combined family concerns with money-making activities. Edith Sparks traces the experiences of these women entrepreneurs, exploring who they were, why they started businesses, how they attracted customers and managed finances, and how they dealt with failure. Using a unique sample of bankruptcy records, credit reports, advertisements, city directories, census reports, and other sources, Sparks argues that women were competitive, economic actors, strategizing how best to capitalize on their skills in the marketplace. Late nineteenth-century San Francisco was an ethnically diverse but male-dominated society bustling from a rowdy gold rush, earthquakes, and explosive economic growth. Within this booming marketplace, some women stepped beyond their roles as wives, caregivers, and homemakers to start businesses that combined family concerns with money-making activities. Edith Sparks traces the experiences of these women entrepreneurs, exploring who they were, why they started businesses, how they attracted customers and managed finances, and how they dealt with failure. Using a unique sample of bankruptcy records, credit reports, advertisements, city directories, census reports, and other sources, Sparks argues that women were competitive, economic actors, strategizing how best to capitalize on their skills in the marketplace. Their boardinghouses, restaurants, saloons, beauty shops, laundries, and clothing stores dotted the city's landscape. By the early twentieth century, however, technological advances, new preferences for name-brand goods, and competition from large-scale retailers constricted opportunities for women entrepreneurs at the same time that new opportunities for women with families drew them into other occupations. Sparks's analysis demonstrates that these businesswomen were intimately tied to the fortunes of the city over its first seventy years.

The Captain Departs Cover

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The Captain Departs

Ulysses S. Grant's Last Campaign

Thomas M. Pitkin

Early in 1885 Americans learned that General Ulysses S. Grant was writing his memoirs in a desperate race against time due to an incurable cancer. Newspaper readers followed the dramatic contest for six months, and the hearts of Americans were touched by the general’s last battle. In this book Thomas M. Pitkin tells the story of the last campaign of the general who was called “the great captain of the Union’s salvation.”

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Captain J. A. Brooks, Texas Ranger

Paul N. Spellman

James Abijah Brooks (1855-1944) was one of the four Great Captains in Texas Ranger history, others including Bill McDonald, John Hughes, and John Rogers. Over the years historians have referred to the captain as “John” Brooks, because he tended to sign with his initials, but also because W. W. Sterling’s classic Trails and Trials of a Texas Ranger mistakenly named him as Captain John Brooks. Born and raised in Civil War-torn Kentucky, a reckless adventurer on the American and Texas frontier, and a quick-draw Texas Ranger captain who later turned in his six-shooter to serve as a county judge, Brooks’s life reflects the raucous era of the late nineteenth and early twentieth-century American West. As a Texas Ranger, Brooks participated in the high profile events of his day, from the fence-cutting wars to the El Paso prizefight, from the Conner Fight–where he lost three fingers from his left hand–to the Temple rail strike, all with a resolute demeanor and a fast gun. A shoot-out in Indian Territory nearly cost him his life and then jeopardized his career, and a lifelong bout with old Kentucky bourbon did the same. With three other distinguished Ranger captains, Brooks witnessed and helped promote the transformation of the elite Frontier Battalion into the Ranger Force. As a state legislator, he brokered the creation of a South Texas county that bears his name today, and where he served for twenty-eight years as county judge. He was the quintessential enforcer of frontier justice, scars and all.

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