“This meticulously researched and lucidly written volume is a must read for anyone interested in the history of Cincinnati and the surrounding region.”
Northern Kentucky Heritage
“Taylor has a good eye for social history and has effectively teased an important and compelling story out of a wide variety of sources. Among Taylor’s major interpretive innovations are ones that implicitly challenge the privileged place of the black church and the black elite in antebellum African American community studies.”
Roy E. Finkenbine, coeditor of Black Abolitionist Papers, 1830-1865
Nineteenth-century Cincinnati was northern in its geography, southern in its economy and politics, and western in its commercial aspirations. While those identities presented a crossroad of opportunity for native whites and immigrants, African Americans endured economic repression and a denial of civil rights, compounded by extreme and frequent mob violence. No other northern city rivaled Cincinnati's vicious mob spirit.
Frontiers of Freedom follows the black community as it moved from alienation and vulnerability in the 1820s toward collective consciousness and, eventually, political self-respect and self-determination. As author Nikki M. Taylor points out, this was a community that at times supported all-black communities, armed self-defense, and separate, but independent, black schools. Black Cincinnati's strategies to gain equality and citizenship were as dynamic as they were effective. When the black community united in armed defense of its homes and property during an 1841 mob attack, it demonstrated that it was no longer willing to be exiled from the city as it had been in 1829.
Frontiers of Freedom chronicles alternating moments of triumph and tribulation, of pride and pain; but more than anything, it chronicles the resilience of the black community in a particularly difficult urban context at a defining moment in American history.
Nikki M. Taylor is a professor of African American history at Howard University. Her other books include Frontiers of Freedom: Cincinnati’s Black Community, 1802–1868 and America’s First Black Socialist: The Radical Life of Peter H. Clark. More info →
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On July 2 and 3, 1917, a mob of white men and women looted and torched the homes and businesses of African Americans in the small industrial city of East St. Louis, Illinois. When the terror ended, the attackers had destroyed property worth millions of dollars, razed several neighborhoods, injured hundreds, and forced at least seven thousand black townspeople to seek refuge across the Mississippi River in St. Louis, Missouri.
American History · Violence in Society · Law · Legal and Constitutional History · Race and Ethnicity · 20th century · Americas · North America · African American Studies · United States · Midwest · History · Illinois
On March 11, 1854, the people of Wisconsin prevented agents of the federal government from carrying away the fugitive slave, Joshua Glover. Assembling in mass outside the Milwaukee courthouse, they demanded that the federal officers respect his civil liberties as they would those of any other citizen of the state. When the officers refused, the crowd took matters into its own hands and rescued Joshua Glover.
Gus Reed was a freed slave who traveled north as Sherman’s March was sweeping through Georgia in 1864. His journey ended in Springfield, Illinois, a city undergoing fundamental changes as its white citizens struggled to understand the political, legal, and cultural consequences of emancipation and black citizenship. Reed became known as a petty thief, appearing time and again in the records of the state’s courts and prisons.
Margaret Garner was the runaway slave who, when confronted with capture just outside of Cincinnati, slit the throat of her toddler daughter rather than have her face a life in slavery. Her story has inspired Toni Morrison’s Beloved, a film based on the novel starring Oprah Winfrey, and an opera. Yet, her life has defied solid historical treatment.