Forging Freedom: The Formation of Philadelphia's Black Community, 1720-1840

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Harvard University Press, 1988 - History - 354 pages
2 Reviews

This book is the first to trace the good and bad fortunes, over more than a century, of the earliest large free black community in the United States. Gary Nash shows how, from colonial times through the Revolution and into the turbulent 1830s, blacks in the City of Brotherly Love struggled to shape a family life, gain occupational competence, organize churches, establish neighborhoods and social networks, advance cultural institutions, educate their children in schools, forge a political consciousness, and train black leaders who would help abolish slavery. These early generations of urban blacks--many of them newly emancipated--constructed a rich and varied community life.

Nash's account includes elements of both poignant triumph and profound tragedy. Keeping in focus both the internal life of the black community and race relations in Philadelphia generally, he portrays first the remarkable vibrancy of black institution-building, ordinary life, and relatively amicable race relations, and then rising racial antagonism. The promise of a racially harmonious society that took form in the postrevolutionary era, involving the integration into the white republic of African people brutalized under slavery, was ultimately unfulfilled. Such hopes collapsed amid racial conflict and intensifying racial discrimination by the 1820s. This failure of the great and much-watched "Philadelphia experiment" prefigured the course of race relations in America in our own century, an enduringly tragic part of this country's past.

  

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Review: Forging Freedom: The Formation of Philadelphia's Black Community, 1720-1840

User Review  - Lori Hamilton - Goodreads

This book was an eye opener for me, one I always bring up in conversations on race issue in Philadelphia. It traces the roots of Philadelphia's African American community from the promise of the ... Read full review

Review: Forging Freedom: The Formation of Philadelphia's Black Community, 1720-1840

User Review  - Sue - Goodreads

From the back: This book is the first to trace the good and bad fortunes, over more than a century, of the earliest large free black community in the United States. Gary Nash shows how, from the ... Read full review

Contents

Introduction
1
The Black Revolution in Philadelphia
38
Becoming Free
66
To Arise Out of the Dust
129
Establishing the Color Line
172
The Bittersweet Cup of Freedom
212
The Dream Deferred
246
38
285
Copyright

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About the author (1988)

Gary B. Nash received his B. A. from Princeton University in 1955 and his Ph.D. from Princeton in 1964. He earned the position of Director of the National Center for History in the Schools at the University of California, Los Angeles, where he taught colonial and revolutionary American history since 1974. Nash has received research grants from the University of California Institute of Humanities and American Philosophical Society and fellowships from the Guggenheim Memorial and American Council of Learned Society. He won the University of California Distinguished Emeriti Award and the Defense of Academic Freedom Award, from the National Council for Social Studies. Nash is the Founding Member and has been on the Board of Trustees of the National Council for History Education since 1990 and was Vice-Chair in 1992. He was also President of the Organization of American Historians, from 1994-95. Among the books Nash has authored are Quakers and Politics: Pennsylvania, 1681-1726; Red, White and Black: The Peoples of Early America; The Urban Crucible: Social Change, Political Consciousness, and the Origins of the American Revolution; Forging Freedom: The Black Urban Experience in Philadelphia, 1720-1840; and The Forgotten Fifth: African Americans in the Age of Revolution.

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