The Bone and Sinew of the Land: America's Forgotten Black Pioneers and the Struggle for Equality

The Bone and Sinew of the Land: America's Forgotten Black Pioneers and the Struggle for Equality

by Anna-Lisa Cox


View All Available Formats & Editions
Members save with free shipping everyday! 
See details


The long-hidden stories of America's black pioneers, the frontier they settled, and their fight for the heart of the nation

When black settlers Keziah and Charles Grier started clearing their frontier land in 1818, they couldn't know that they were part of the nation's earliest struggle for equality; they were just looking to build a better life. But within a few years, the Griers would become early Underground Railroad conductors, joining with fellow pioneers and other allies to confront the growing tyranny of bondage and injustice.

The Bone and Sinew of the Land tells the Griers' story and the stories of many others like them: the lost history of the nation's first Great Migration. In building hundreds of settlements on the frontier, these black pioneers were making a stand for equality and freedom. Their new home, the Northwest Territory — the wild region that would become present-day Ohio, Illinois, Indiana, Michigan, and Wisconsin — was the first territory to ban slavery and have equal voting rights for all men. Though forgotten today, in their own time the successes of these pioneers made them the targets of racist backlash. Political and even armed battles soon ensued, tearing apart families and communities long before the Civil War. This groundbreaking work of research reveals America's forgotten frontier, where these settlers were inspired by the belief that all men are created equal and a brighter future was possible.

Named one of Smithsonian's Best History Books of 2018

Product Details

ISBN-13: 9781610398107
Publisher: PublicAffairs
Publication date: 06/12/2018
Pages: 304
Sales rank: 504,161
Product dimensions: 6.20(w) x 9.30(h) x 1.20(d)

About the Author

Anna-Lisa Cox is the author of A Stronger Kinship: One Town's Extraordinary Story of Hope and Faith, and an award-winning historian. Currently a fellow at Harvard University's Hutchins Center for African and African American Research, she also recently helped create two historical exhibits based on her original research at the Smithsonian's National Museum of African American History and Culture, including one on black pioneers.

Table of Contents

Map viii

African American Farming Settlements in the Northwest Territory States, 1800-1860 xi

Author's Note xvii

Introduction 1

1 "Life, Liberty" 7

2 Interlude: "We hold these truths to be self-evident" 21

3 "The pursuit of Happiness" 41

4 "And secure the blessings of Liberty" 61

5 "To secure these rights, Governments are instituted among Men, deriving their just powers from the consent of the governed" 77

6 "Burnt our towns, and destroyed the lives of our people" 99

7 "The right of the people peaceably to assemble" 133

8 "For taking away our Charters, abolishing our most valuable Laws, and altering fundamentally the Forms of our Governments" 155

9 "A history of repeated injuries and usurpations" 179

Conclusion: "All men are created equal" 203

Notes 211

Index 263

Customer Reviews