African Americans in the Nineteenth Century: People and Perspectives

African Americans in the Nineteenth Century: People and Perspectives

African Americans in the Nineteenth Century: People and Perspectives

African Americans in the Nineteenth Century: People and Perspectives


From the slave trade and the Civil War to "40 acres and a mule" and Jim Crow laws, African Americans in the 1800s struggled to be afforded legally protected citizenship and social acceptance. This work explores African American life across the breadth of the 19th century and the expanse of the nation, giving voice to men, women, and children too often unheard.

Uniquely inclusive, African Americans in the Nineteenth Century: People and Perspectives offers a wealth of insights into the way African Americans lived and how slave-era experiences affected their lives afterward. Coverage goes beyond well-known figures to focus on the lives of African American men, women and children across the nation, battling the oppression and prejudice that didn't stop with emancipation while they tried to establish their place as Americans.

The book ranges from the African origins of African American communities to coverage of slave communities, female slaves, slave-slave holder relations, and freed persons. Additional chapters look at African Americans in the Civil War, Reconstruction, and Jim Crow eras. An alphabetically organized "mini-encyclopedia," plus additional information sources round out this eye-opening work of social history.


History is the key to understanding our present and the light that illuminates the path to our future. In 2008, the United States celebrated a landmark event in its history, the election of an African American to the presidency of the United States. Many scholars trace the origins of this event to the efforts of Martin Luther King, Jr., in the 20th century or Abraham Lincoln’s issuance of the Emancipation Proclamation in the 19th century, and in part, they are justified in their argument. These scholars, however, miss the proverbial forest by looking at a couple of large trees. Since 1800, millions of African Americans made sacrifices that blazed a trail that led directly to the election of Barack Obama to the presidency of the United States. Specifically, in the 19th century, people like Gabriel Prosser, Charles Deslondes, Paul Cuffe, Levi Coffin, Richard Allen, Denmark Vesey, Edward Jones, David Walker, Nat Turner, Harriet Tubman, Sojourner Truth, Dred Scott, Edward Alexander Bouchet, Henry O. Flipper, Booker T. Washington, George Washington Williams, Ida B. Wells, Homer Plessy, W. E. B. Du Bois, and the communities they represent literally sacrificed everything including their lives to lay down a foundation for the eventual freedom of all African Americans. These individuals paved a path to a future in which an African American could be elected president of the United States. Probably no one person did more for the betterment of the African American community in the 19th century and the achievement of their hopes in a later century than did Frederick Douglass.

Frederick Douglass is the perfect, singular example of the African American experience in the 19th century. He experienced life in a slave community in the South and in free African American communities in the North before the Civil War. In 1818, Douglass was born a slave in Maryland, and while a slave, he became all too familiar with the brutality, inhumanity, and inherent evil of the slavery institution.

While still a child and a slave, Douglass learned how to read even though it was forbidden by law. Eventually, he was forced to labor for his owner as he reached maturity. In 1838, Douglass managed to escape to the North and freedom, and by the early 1840s, he became an outspoken . . .

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