Beacons of Liberty: International Free Soil and the Fight for Racial Justice in Antebellum America

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Cambridge University Press, Apr 22, 2021 - History - 304 pages
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Before the Civil War, free African Americans and fugitive slaves crossed international borders to places like Canada, Mexico, and the Caribbean in search of freedom and equality. Beacons of Liberty tells the story of how these bold migrants catalyzed contentious debates over citizenship, racial justice, and national character in the United States. Blending fresh historical analysis with incredible stories of escape and rebellion, Elena K. Abbott shows how the shifting geography of slavery and freedom beyond US borders helped shape the hopes and expectations of black radicals, white politicians, and fiery reformers engaged in the American anti-slavery movement. Featuring perspectives from activists and risk-takers like Mary Ann Shadd, Martin Delany, and James C. Brown, Beacons of Liberty illuminates the critical role that international free soil played in the long and arduous fight for emancipation and racial justice in the United States.
 

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Contents

The Search for Legal Equality in a Time
50
Free Black Emigration to Canada
77
Assessing Migrant Life
130
SelfEmancipation and the Geopolitics
149
Free Soil Fiction and the Fugitive Slave
173
The Meaning of Free Soil in a Nation
195
Conclusion
224
Reference Material
235
Acknowledgments
236
Bibliography
301
Index
321
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About the author (2021)

Elena K. Abbott is a Seattle-based author, editor, and historian whose scholarship focuses on slavery and antislavery in the Atlantic world. She received her PhD from Georgetown University, where she was awarded the Harold N. Glassman Distinguished Dissertation Award in the Humanities.

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