African Americans on the Western Frontier

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During the last half of the nineteenth century, several thousand African Americans moved to the American western frontier. Before the Civil War, some went west to California as slaves of gold miners and to Utah as slaves of Mormons. Later, free black men joined the U.S. Army and served in frontier outposts while others were hired on as cowboys on western ranches and cattle trails. Once Reconstruction ended in the South, discrimination and segregation caused more African Americans to seek better opportunities elsewhere where prejudice was less evident.

The significant role played by African Americans in the settlement and development of the West has largely been ignored and neglected until now. African Americans on the Western Frontier remedies that historic neglect with fifteen essays that explore the contributions that African American men and women made to the western frontier-as miners, homesteaders, town builders, entrepreneurs, and as ordinary, civic-minded citizens. This rich and diverse story of the African American western experience during the frontier era is for scholars and students of western history as well as anyone interested in African American history, and is an important work for all Americans to read.

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Editorial Reviews

Through a carefully chosen collection of essays relating to the African American experience in the West from 1850 to 1912, the editors hope to connect the African Americans' story and their often-neglected contributions to the overall experience of frontier life from pre-Civil War times into the 20th century. Even though African Americans suffered through slavery and racial prejudice in the West, many found in the frontier a measure of freedom and opportunity shared by all pioneers. The specific and wide-ranging essays gleaned mainly from local historical and professional journals (1969-1991) include: slavery, Mormon relations with slavery, reconstruction and equal rights struggles in Colorado, l865-l867, Buffalo soldiers (an original article by Billington), black soldiers in Utah, l896-l899, coal mining in western Washington, black cowboys, the "color line" in Kansas, Oklahoma's all-black towns, black women in the West, black women in prisons, l865-l910, Montana's black community, and African American newspapers, l880-l914. In a final essay, an original detailed bibliographic article about the African American frontier, Hardaway draws together many sources to guide a researcher in this regional topic. Given the broad scope of the material, the editors envision this book as a supplemental text in college classes, but upper level high school students might also find the book useful for American history topics. KLIATT Codes: A—Recommended for advanced students, and adults. 2001, Univ. Press of Colorado, 275p. illus. notes. index., $19.95. Ages 17 to adult. Reviewer: Mary T. Gerrity; Upper Marlboro, MD , September 2001 (Vol. 35 No. 5)
Fourteen essays compiled from the last few decades explore different aspects of the African-American experience in the western territories from 1850 to 1914. Among the topics explored are African-Americans who came to the west as slaves of Mormons or gold miners; the equal rights struggle in Colorado, 1865-1867; the buffalo soldiers of the Indian wars; black coal miners in western Washington; black cowboys; relations with whites in post-reconstruction Kansas; Oklahoma's all black towns; black women prisoners; and the development of African-American newspapers. Annotation c. by Book News, Inc., Portland, Or.
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Product Details

  • ISBN-13: 9780870816147
  • Publisher: University Press of Colorado
  • Publication date: 1/28/2001
  • Edition description: New Edition
  • Pages: 285
  • Product dimensions: 6.00 (w) x 8.90 (h) x 0.70 (d)

Meet the Author

Monroe Lee Billington is Professor Emeritus at New Mexico State University. He is the author of several books including New Mexico's Buffalo Soldiers, 1866-1900. Roger D. Hardaway is Associate Professor of History at Northwestern Oklahoma State University.

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Table of Contents

Introduction 1
Slavery in the West 7
The Mormons and Slavery - A Closer Look 24
Reconstruction on the Frontier: The Equal Rights Struggle in Colorado, 1865-1867 37
Buffalo Soldiers in the American West, 1865-1900 54
Improbable Ambassadors: Black Soldiers at Fort Douglas, Utah, 1896-1899 73
Blacks and the Coal Mines of Western Washington, 1888-1896 92
Black Cowboys in the American West, 1866-1900 110
Integration, Exclusion, or Segregation? The "Color Line" in Kansas, 1878-1900 128
Oklahoma's All-Black Towns 147
American Daughters: Black Women in the West 160
Still in Chains: Black Women in Western Prisons, 1865-1910 181
Helena, Montana's Black Community, 1900-1912 198
The Development of African American Newspapers in the American West, 1880-1914 217
The African American Frontier: A Bibliographic Essay 231
Appendix 259
Contributors 261
Index 263
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