A Fragile Freedom: African American Women and Emancipation by Prof. Erica Armstrong Dunbar

By Prof. Erica Armstrong Dunbar

This publication is the 1st to chronicle the lives of African American girls within the city north in the course of the early years of the republic. a delicate Freedom investigates how African American ladies in Philadelphia journeyed from enslavement to the precarious prestige of “free folks” within the a long time top as much as the Civil struggle and examines similar advancements within the towns of latest York and Boston. Erica Armstrong Dunbar argues that early nineteenth-century Philadelphia, the place such a lot African americans have been loose, enacted one of those practice session for the nationwide emancipation that within the post–Civil battle years. She explores the lives of the “regular” ladies of antebellum Philadelphia, the unfastened black associations that took root there, and the formerly unrecognized value of African American girls to the background of yank cities.  (20090301)

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Indeed, no slave population anywhere in colonial American reproduced itself until the end of the eighteenth century. Although black men and women often did not live in the same households, it appears that a significant black community, both enslaved and free, had consolidated by the late eighteenth century, which kept African Americans in touch with each other. The same cannot be said for blacks in rural Pennsylvania, however, where large tracts of land often separated men and women. But country life had its benefits.

The same cannot be said for blacks in rural Pennsylvania, however, where large tracts of land often separated men and women. But country life had its benefits. There were more men in the country; the need for those who could handle hard physical labor placed black men in the majority. 34 Women of African descent in rural Pennsylvania could expect to live with their children, but not with their husbands. For instance, 70 percent of black women listed in eastern Chester County (now Delaware County) appeared on household inventories that included black children, most likely their own children.

The French and Indian War prompted a drastic increase in the number of slaves living in Philadelphia and its environs. As the war dragged on, many English servants either enlisted or ran off to join the military campaign, often without the permission or knowledge of their masters. The scarcity of available free white workers forced owners to turn to African slaves. 23 Before the war, the majority of African slaves who resided in Pennsylvania had been “seasoned” in the West Indies, normally for a period of several years.

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