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

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9780674309340: Forging Freedom: The Formation of Philadelphia's Black Community, 1720-1840

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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About the Author:

Gary B. Nash is Professor of History Emeritus, UCLA and Professor and Director, National Center for History in the Schools.

From Library Journal:

Nash's masterful work of historical detection and re-creation details the black struggle that made Philadelphia the urban black center of post-Revolutionary America. Nash weaves the tale of black successes and tragedies using information from public records and private papers. He shows how early interracial cooperation, marked by antislavery aid from Quakers, disintegrated as white racial attitudes shifted to segregation; he also shows how blacks sustained themselves throughout the continuing adversity. Essential for collections on Afro-American local, social, or urban history. Highest recommendation. Winch focuses on the institutions and ideology of the relatively affluent and educated blacks who first became known in Philadelphia through the Free African Society. She traces that elite's rise to prominence from 1787 to 1822, its handling of colonization and abolition, its lead in the national convention movement of the 1830s, and the dissension and outside pressure that caused its decline. A complement to Nash's study, Winch's rich portrait of Philadelphia's black leaders and their role in shaping the lives of Northern blacks deserves a close reading. Recommended for Afro-American and antebellum collections. Thomas J. Davis, SUNY at Buffalo
Copyright 1988 Reed Business Information, Inc.

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Nash, Gary B.
Published by Harvard University Press (1988)
ISBN 10: 0674309340 ISBN 13: 9780674309340
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Book Description Harvard University Press, 1988. Hardcover. Book Condition: New. Bookseller Inventory # P110674309340

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