A Fragile Freedom: African American Women and Emancipation by Prof. Erica Armstrong Dunbar

By Prof. Erica Armstrong Dunbar

This e-book is the 1st to chronicle the lives of African American girls within the city north through the early years of the republic. a delicate Freedom investigates how African American girls in Philadelphia journeyed from enslavement to the precarious prestige of “free folks” within the many years prime as much as the Civil battle and examines similar advancements within the towns of latest York and Boston. Erica Armstrong Dunbar argues that early nineteenth-century Philadelphia, the place such a lot African american citizens have been loose, enacted one of those practice session for the nationwide emancipation that within the post–Civil conflict years. She explores the lives of the “regular” girls of antebellum Philadelphia, the unfastened black associations that took root there, and the formerly unrecognized value of African American ladies to the background of yank cities.  (20090301)

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In rural Pennsylvania, the majority of owners were wealthy farmers, dependent on slave labor for fieldwork. Although few rural tavern keepers and craftsmen held African men and women in bondage, most slaves did farmwork: chopping wood, plowing fields, and picking apples and harvesting other produce, as well as domestic work. Unlike the city of Philadelphia, which saw a decline in slave ownership following the French and Indian War, rural Pennsylvania at that time witnessed signs of increased slaveholding.

The Pennsylvania Abolition Society established itself as the primary advocacy organization for both enslaved and free black men and women, and it began its reorganization by carefully policing the enforcement of the 1780 act. Slaveholders who entered the state of Pennsylvania after March 1780 and failed to release their slaves after six months found themselves the targets of the society’s punitive legal action. As word spread quickly through the city that the society might be able to secure their freedom, black Philadelphians inundated it with pleas for help.

48 Only a small number of free blacks participated in the revolutionary struggle by volunteering their services to American troops. A handful of free black men volunteered for the Pennsylvania navy; yet the assistance offered by the free black community of Philadelphia went unrecognized, since the army at first was unwilling to accept black men into the fledgling military. Only after 1779, when army officials had a difficult time recruiting and retaining white men, did they turn their attention to free blacks.

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A Fragile Freedom: African American Women and Emancipation by Prof. Erica Armstrong Dunbar
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