Exhibit Looks at City's Ugly History of Slavery

By Machosky, Michael | Tribune-Review/Pittsburgh Tribune-Review, November 14, 2008 | Go to article overview

Exhibit Looks at City's Ugly History of Slavery


Machosky, Michael, Tribune-Review/Pittsburgh Tribune-Review


Pittsburgh, well north of the Mason-Dixon line and the dominion of King Cotton, isn't a place normally associated with slavery.

But Western Pennsylvania has a long, strange and surprising history with "the peculiar institution" of slavery. The issue is illuminated at the Senator John Heinz History Center in a new exhibit: "Free at Last? Slavery in Pittsburgh in the 18th and 19th Centuries."

The exhibit began with this discovery of an oddly marked file, found by staff in the Allegheny County Recorder of Deeds office of Valerie McDonald Roberts.

"They discovered a folder with the word 'Negro' on it," says Vice Chancellor Robert Hill of the University of Pittsburgh. "They brought it to Valerie's attention, and she discovered that it was a transaction related to children. After digging a little more, they found that there were 55 records related to slavery. She turned them over to the history center for preservation."

Hill heard about the papers and decided to check them out.

"They're written in this flowery old penmanship, so I got a magnifying glass and went through them," Hill says. "There were famous names associated with the transactions, names that are on towns and villages and streets in Western Pennsylvania. What are these people doing involved with slavery-related activities?

"Isaac Craig owned eight slaves, and so on. I said, 'Isaac Craig? I work on Craig Street.' But I wasn't sure there was a connection. So I started learning about him and Gen. John Neville, and others, and decided that, in addition to putting the papers on display, we needed to tell the fuller story of slavery in Pittsburgh."

With help from Laurence A. Glasco, a professor at Pitt who wrote "The WPA History of the Negro in Pittsburgh," Hill assembled the exhibit. The papers are the centerpiece, but Hill was determined to flesh out the story, from a visual re-creation of the Middle Passage aboard the slave ships, to the stories of Pittsburgh's strong abolitionist communities, of whites and free blacks.

Hill found that Pittsburgh's awkward, extended transition from slavery is largely a product of Pennsylvania's Act for the Gradual Abolition of Slavery, passed in 1780. Even the Quakers in Pennsylvania originally owned slaves, but were among the first to turn against the practice. At the time, this was a pioneering act of abolition. But it had a lot of loopholes.

"After March 1, 1780, children born of slave women couldn't be slaves for life," Hill says. "They would serve a kind of term slavery until age 28. It was 28, because when the legislation was taking shape, just like today, the lobbyists were out in force. So the slave lobby said, 'You know, these slave kids are a nuisance. They have to be fed, clothed, baby sat, and you can't get any real value out them until they're about 14. …

The rest of this article is only available to active members of Questia

Already a member? Log in now.

Notes for this article

Add a new note
If you are trying to select text to create highlights or citations, remember that you must now click or tap on the first word, and then click or tap on the last word.
One moment ...
Default project is now your active project.
Project items

Items saved from this article

This article has been saved
Highlights (0)
Some of your highlights are legacy items.

Highlights saved before July 30, 2012 will not be displayed on their respective source pages.

You can easily re-create the highlights by opening the book page or article, selecting the text, and clicking “Highlight.”

Citations (0)
Some of your citations are legacy items.

Any citation created before July 30, 2012 will labeled as a “Cited page.” New citations will be saved as cited passages, pages or articles.

We also added the ability to view new citations from your projects or the book or article where you created them.

Notes (0)
Bookmarks (0)

You have no saved items from this article

Project items include:
  • Saved book/article
  • Highlights
  • Quotes/citations
  • Notes
  • Bookmarks
Notes
Cite this article

Cited article

Style
Citations are available only to our active members.
Buy instant access to cite pages or passages in MLA, APA and Chicago citation styles.

(Einhorn, 1992, p. 25)

(Einhorn 25)

1. Lois J. Einhorn, Abraham Lincoln, the Orator: Penetrating the Lincoln Legend (Westport, CT: Greenwood Press, 1992), 25, http://www.questia.com/read/27419298.

Cited article

Exhibit Looks at City's Ugly History of Slavery
Settings

Settings

Typeface
Text size Smaller Larger Reset View mode
Search within

Search within this article

Look up

Look up a word

  • Dictionary
  • Thesaurus
Please submit a word or phrase above.
Print this page

Print this page

Why can't I print more than one page at a time?

Help
Full screen

matching results for page

    Questia reader help

    How to highlight and cite specific passages

    1. Click or tap the first word you want to select.
    2. Click or tap the last word you want to select, and you’ll see everything in between get selected.
    3. You’ll then get a menu of options like creating a highlight or a citation from that passage of text.

    OK, got it!

    Cited passage

    Style
    Citations are available only to our active members.
    Buy instant access to cite pages or passages in MLA, APA and Chicago citation styles.

    "Portraying himself as an honest, ordinary person helped Lincoln identify with his audiences." (Einhorn, 1992, p. 25).

    "Portraying himself as an honest, ordinary person helped Lincoln identify with his audiences." (Einhorn 25)

    "Portraying himself as an honest, ordinary person helped Lincoln identify with his audiences."1

    1. Lois J. Einhorn, Abraham Lincoln, the Orator: Penetrating the Lincoln Legend (Westport, CT: Greenwood Press, 1992), 25, http://www.questia.com/read/27419298.

    Cited passage

    Thanks for trying Questia!

    Please continue trying out our research tools, but please note, full functionality is available only to our active members.

    Your work will be lost once you leave this Web page.

    Buy instant access to save your work.

    Already a member? Log in now.

    Author Advanced search

    Oops!

    An unknown error has occurred. Please click the button below to reload the page. If the problem persists, please try again in a little while.