Tag: African American history

Group of African Americans in front of Church Building

The Politics of Faith: How Contests within Sacred Space Shaped Post-Emancipation Society

In this roundtable, three historians present short excerpts from papers they would have presented at the 2020 meeting of the Society of Civil War Historians, which was cancelled due to Covid-19. The authors featured here explore how the wartime destruction of slavery shaped politics and power within Black churches, between ...
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Portrait of Henry McNeal Turner

“‘Irregular Secession’: The Political Nature of Religious Space in the Reconstruction-era South

In the early summer of 1865, just a few months after Confederates in Raleigh, North Carolina, officially surrendered, Black Baptists found themselves faced with a choice: submit to white leadership and be permitted to use the roomy sanctuary of the city’s main Baptist church, or refuse and be relegated to ...
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Portrait of O. O. Howard

Strategic Alliance: John Hartwell Cook, O. O. Howard, and the Postwar Fight for Equality at First Congregational Church

In February 1867, John Hartwell Cook, a freedman from Virginia and graduate of Oberlin College, arrived in Washington, DC, with his wife, Isabel “Belle” Lewis, to take up a new position with the Bureau of Refugees, Freedmen and Abandoned Lands, commonly called the Freedmen’s Bureau. Prior to his arrival, he ...
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Portrait of George Freeman Bragg

Beyond Speeches and Leaders: The Role of Black Churches in the Reconstruction of the United States

Black churches were at the center of remaking the United States’ post-Civil War political system into one that incorporated formerly enslaved black men into the body politic and revised the legal code to provide civil rights to these new citizens.  Black Baptist and Episcopal Churches of Virginia provide insight into ...
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Popularizing Proslavery: John Van Evrie and the Mass Marketing of Proslavery Ideology

Popularizing Proslavery: John Van Evrie and the Mass Marketing of Proslavery Ideology

Let’s start with a quiz. 1: What are zygomatic arches? 2: Who, exactly, was Amunoph IV? 3: What are the key similarities and differences between the Esquimaux Dog (C. familiaris, Desm.) and the Hare-Indian Dog (C. familiaris lagopus)? These questions are drawn from references made in one of nineteenth-century America’s ...
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Editor’s Note: June 2020 Issue

Themes of movement and mobility unite the essays in this issue. We begin with Amy Murrell Taylor’s 2019 Watson Brown Award acceptance speech for her book Embattled Freedom: Journeys through the Civil War’s Slave Refugee Camps. The speech encapsulates a central contention of Taylor’s book—that movement was critical to the ...
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Tracing Black Mothers’ Love: Reconstruction-Era Reunification and DH Possibilities

Tracing Black Mothers’ Love: Reconstruction-Era Reunification and DH Possibilities

The COVID-19 pandemic has magnified the importance of digital humanities (DH) projects and accessible digital tools for those locked out of traditional archival repositories.  The recent and expanding democratization of archival materials, moreover, has introduced new possibilities for researching African American reunification efforts as an embodied application of Civil War ...
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Welcoming P. Gabrielle Foreman to the <i>Muster</i> Team

Welcoming P. Gabrielle Foreman to the Muster Team

We are pleased to announce the addition of a new correspondent to our Muster team, P. Gabrielle Foreman. Gabrielle recently moved to Penn State from the University of Delaware where she was the founding faculty director of the award-winning Colored Conventions Project. At Penn State, she'll launch and direct the Center ...
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Missouri Compromised: Anti-Slavery Protest During the Missouri Statehood Debate

Missouri Compromised: Anti-Slavery Protest During the Missouri Statehood Debate

In his book On Compromise and Rotten Compromises, the philosopher Avishai Margalit argues that "we should be judged by our compromises more than by our ideals and norms. Ideals may tell us something important about what we would like to be. But compromises tell us who we are."[1] The essence ...
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Poetry Not Yet Written: Revisiting Glory Thirty Years Later

Poetry Not Yet Written: Revisiting Glory Thirty Years Later

Glory begins as so many Civil War films do: the sun rises on a vast battlefield, brave Union men march into war, and a ferocious battle ensues, American and Confederate flags billowing in the background. Despite its adherence to well-worn tropes, however, Glory tells a tale that is often obscured ...
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2019 Draper Conference Review: “The Greater Reconstruction: American Democracy after the Civil War,” Part II

2019 Draper Conference Review: “The Greater Reconstruction: American Democracy after the Civil War,” Part II

Day two of the 2019 Draper Conference brought four more panels, including a plenary session that concluded the proceedings. For my review of day one of the conference, see my previous post on Muster. A panel on the topic of “Racial Terror and Violence” started off the morning block and ...
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2019 Draper Conference Review: "The Greater Reconstruction: American Democracy after the Civil War," Part I

2019 Draper Conference Review: “The Greater Reconstruction: American Democracy after the Civil War,” Part I

On April 19 and 20, the University of Connecticut at Storrs hosted the 2019 Draper Conference on the topic of “The Greater Reconstruction: American Democracy after the Civil War.” The two-day event featured eight panels, consisting of thirty-one paper presentations and a keynote address.[1] All told, the conference revealed an ...
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A Long Retreat: Episodes 3 and 4 of <i>Reconstruction: America After the Civil War</i>

A Long Retreat: Episodes 3 and 4 of Reconstruction: America After the Civil War

To catch up, you'll find Millington Bergeson-Lockwood's review of Episodes 1 and 2 here. No matter how “bitter the chastening rod,” to borrow from the Black National Anthem, the second part of the Henry Louis Gates’s documentary on Reconstruction shows how African Americans kept fighting well after the Compromise of ...
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Facing the “False Picture of Facts”: Episodes 1 and 2 of <i>Reconstruction: America After the Civil War</i>

Facing the “False Picture of Facts”: Episodes 1 and 2 of Reconstruction: America After the Civil War

In 1884, formerly enslaved African American author and newspaper editor T. Thomas Fortune wrote Black and White: Land, Labor, and Politics in the South, his analysis of the political and economic conditions in the South after the formal end of Reconstruction in 1877. He described the uncertain reality facing freedmen ...
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The Electoral Politics of “Migrant Caravans”

The Electoral Politics of “Migrant Caravans”

Images of the “migrant caravans” heading north from Honduras, through Guatemala and Mexico and toward the United States, are now familiar to us all. There have been other “migrant caravans” from Central America in the past, but none have registered in American media and politics quite like the one that ...
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The Mystery of William Jones, An Enslaved Man Owned by Ulysses S. Grant

The Mystery of William Jones, An Enslaved Man Owned by Ulysses S. Grant

On March 29, 1859, Ulysses S. Grant went to the St. Louis Courthouse to attend to a pressing legal matter. That day Grant signed a manumission paper freeing William Jones, an enslaved African American man that he had previously acquired from his father-in-law, "Colonel" Frederick F. Dent. Described as being ...
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