In Hope of Liberty: Culture, Community and Protest among Northern Free Blacks, 1700-1860 / Edition 1

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Overview

Prince Hall, a black veteran of the American Revolution, was insulted and disappointed but probably not surprised when white officials refused his offer of help. He had volunteered a troop of 700 Boston area blacks to help quell a rebellion of western Massachusetts farmers led by Daniel Shays during the economic turmoil in the uncertain period following independence. Many African Americans had fought for America's liberty and their own in the Revolution, but their place in the new nation was unresolved. As slavery was abolished in the North, free blacks gained greater opportunities, but still faced a long struggle against limits to their freedom, against discrimination, and against southern slavery. The lives of these men and women are vividly described in In Hope of Liberty, spanning the 200 years and eight generations from the colonial slave trade to the Civil War.
In this marvelously peopled history, James and Lois Horton introduce us to a rich cast of characters. There are familiar historical figures such as Crispus Attucks, a leader of the Boston Massacre and one of the first casualties of the American Revolution; Sojourner Truth, former slave and eloquent antislavery and women's rights activist whose own family had been broken by slavery when her son became a wedding present for her owner's daughter; and Prince Whipple, George Washington's aide, easily recognizable in the portrait of Washington crossing the Delaware River. And there are the countless men and women who struggled to lead their daily lives with courage and dignity: Zilpha Elaw, a visionary revivalist who preached before crowds of thousands; David James Peck, the first black to graduate from an American medical school in 1848; Paul Cuffe, a successful seafaring merchant who became an ardent supporter of the black African colonization movement; and Nancy Prince, at eighteen the effective head of a scattered household of four siblings, each boarded in different homes, who at twenty-five was formally presented to the Russian court.
In a seamless narrative weaving together all these stories and more, the Hortons describe the complex networks, both formal and informal, that made up free black society, from the black churches, which provided a sense of community and served as a training ground for black leaders and political action, to the countless newspapers which spoke eloquently of their aspirations for blacks and played an active role in the antislavery movement, to the informal networks which allowed far-flung families to maintain contact, and which provided support and aid to needy members of the free black community and to fugitives from the South. Finally, they describe the vital role of the black family, the cornerstone of this variegated and tightly knit community
In Hope of Liberty brilliantly illuminates the free black communities of the antebellum North as they struggled to reconcile conflicting cultural identities and to work for social change in an atmosphere of racial injustice. As the black community today still struggles with many of the same problems, this insightful history reminds us how far we have come, and how far we have yet to go.

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Editorial Reviews

Review American Historical
This elegantly crafted narrative by James and Lois Horton illuminates the burgeoning voice and visibility of the northern free black American community in the two centuries preceding the Civil War....At the core of this work are chapters on culture, race, and class in the colonial North; the evolution of family and household; culture, politics, and the issue of African-American identity; and sustaining and serving the community....The elegance of its conception, language, and general presentation are to be commended. -- American Historical Review
From Barnes & Noble
In Hope of Liberty is the compelling history of the African American involvement in the formation and foundation of a new nation. Even though many of these brave men and women fought for America's liberty, their place in the new nation remains unresolved. The lives of these courageous Americans are vividly described, spanning the 200 years and eight generations from the colonial slave trade to the Civil War.
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Product Details

  • ISBN-13: 9780195124651
  • Publisher: Oxford University Press, USA
  • Publication date: 4/30/1998
  • Edition description: Reprint
  • Edition number: 1
  • Pages: 352
  • Sales rank: 1,024,485
  • Product dimensions: 9.20 (w) x 6.10 (h) x 1.20 (d)

Meet the Author

James Oliver Horton is the Benjamin Banneker Professor of American Studies and History at the George Washington University. He also directs the African-American Communities Project at the Smithsonian Institution and is the author of Free People of Color: Inside the African-American Community.

Lois E. Horton is Professor of Sociology and American Studies at George Mason University and the co-author of Black Bostonians: Family Life and Community Struggles in the Antebellum North.

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Table of Contents

Introduction
1 Slavery and Slave Trading in the Colonial North 3
2 Culture, Race, and Class in the Colonial North 30
3 Revolution and the Abolition of Northern Slavery 55
4 A Life in Freedom: The Evolution of Family and Household 77
5 Coping with Urban Life: Poverty, Work, and Regional Differences 101
6 Sustaining and Serving the Community: Building Institutions for Social and Spiritual Welfare 125
7 Culture, Politics, and the Issue of African-American Identity 155
8 Ambivalent Identity: Colonization and the Question of Emigration 177
9 The Growth of the Antebellum Antislavery Movement 203
10 The Widening Struggle, Growing Militancy, and the Hope of Liberty for All 237
Epilogue 269
Notes 271
Index 325
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Sort by: Showing 1 Customer Reviews
  • Anonymous

    Posted June 30, 2004

    Highly recommended

    This book was truly a great piece of African American culture. It showed great information about our history that brought us forth a new meaning in the understanding within the book. I highly recommend this to anyone who is interested in the history of the African American culture.

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