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Hurry Freedom: African Americans in Gold Rush California.

Jerry Stanley.

33 ratings by Goodreads
ISBN 10: 0517800942 / ISBN 13: 9780517800942
Published by Crown Books for Young Readers, New York, NY, 2000
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First Edition [2000]; First Printing, so stated. Fine in Near Fine DJ: Book shows binding square and secure; text clean. DJ shows only the mildest rubbing; small chip to foot of spine;price intact; mylar-protected. Virtually 'As New'. NOT a Remainder, Book-Club, or Ex-Library. 8vo. 86 pp. Hardback with DJ. If you have a young adult at home, buy this book! Better yet, buy it for yourself, and let the young adult read it when you've finished it. One of only five books nominated for the 2000 National Book Award for Young People's Literature, "Hurry Freedom" is a great and informative read for everyone, adult or child.The subject is the plight of African Americans in the West-California in particular-during and after the 1849 gold rush. Focusing primarily upon the extremely interesting life and experiences of Mifflin Gibbs, in the `40s an acquaintance and sometimes speaking partner of Frederick Douglass, Jerry Stanley tells in some detail of the fate of those few African Americans venturing-willingly or unwillingly-into California at the end of that decade. To those of us raised a century and a half after the fact, and especially to us raised in the West, California of the 1840s and 1850s conjures up images of "tolerance," "freedom," and even "abolition." The experiences of Mifflin Gibbs and his contemporaries show what misconceptions these images really are. Instead of "tolerance," we read of bigotry as deep as that found in the slave states. "Freedom" is precarious, even for those born free, such as Gibbs; for others, it is often gained only through a California counterpart to the Underground Railroad. "Abolition" proves to be more an unattainable concept than a reality, as California-legally a "free" state-again and again refuses to "grant" any of the fundamental rights of citizenship to its resident, and economically productive, African American population throughout the 1850s. Finally, frustrated by the repeated insults and lack of corrective action on the part of the California legislature, Gibbs and more than two hundred others-twenty percent of California's black population and fifty percent of San Francisco's-emigrated to Canada, where attitudes about tolerance and freedom were a bit more enlightened, and definitely legislated. As a postscript, Stanley notes that Gibbs eventually returned to the United States in 1869, eventually being admitted to the bar, serving as a City Judge and Arkansas Registrar of Lands, and being appointed United States Ambassador to Madegascar. Gibbs' own autobiography, "Shadow and Light," remains in print, and can be purchased through Stanley is a master writer and storyteller, and "Hurry Freedom" contains some of his best work to date, told in an appropriate-but not condescending-style for young adults. Indeed, as noted above, this book makes interesting adult reading. And the situation of African Americans in antebellum California is Stanley's area of expertise (his academic research since his postgraduate days has dealt with this very area), one he covers in this case with well written prose and an abundance of fascinating photographs. Like "Children of the Dust Bowl," "Big Annie of Calumet," "I Am an American," and "Digger"-his prior works, frequent book award winners and nominees, "Hurry Freedom" is a well constructed expression of Stanley's knowledge and love of his topic. First Edition [2000]; First Printing, so stated. Bookseller Inventory # 37171

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Bibliographic Details

Title: Hurry Freedom: African Americans in Gold ...

Publisher: Crown Books for Young Readers, New York, NY

Publication Date: 2000

Binding: Hardcover

Dust Jacket Condition: Dust Jacket Included

Edition: 1st Edition

About this title


Here for the first time in a book for young readers is the story of the African American forty-niners who went west to seek fortunes and
freedom in the California Gold Rush.

Among the thousands drawn west by the California Gold Rush were many African Americans. Some were free men and women in search of opportunity; others were slaves brought from the slave states of the South. Some found freedom and wealth in the gold fields and growing cities of California, but all faced the deeply entrenched prejudices of the era.

To tell this story Hurry Freedom! focuses on the life of Mifflin Gibbs, who arrived in San Francisco in 1850 and established a successful boot and shoe business. But Gibbs's story is more than one of business and personal success: With other African American San Franciscans, he led a campaign to obtain equal legal and civil rights for Blacks in California.


The California gold rush of 1849 brought a new kind of freedom to many African Americans. Slavery was illegal in California, and slaves who were brought in by their owners could escape and be freed. And for free African Americans, the gold rush opened up incredible opportunities for financial profit. California's population grew from 8,000 to 100,000 in one year, and, while prejudice raged in the gold mines as well as everywhere else, it become possible for some men (and women) to take advantage of the riches available. Mifflin Gibbs arrived in San Francisco in 1850 with 10 cents to his name and a powerful ambition to succeed. Within a very few years, he had established a successful boot and shoe business, was working on California's Underground Railroad, and leading a campaign to obtain equal legal rights by overturning laws that prohibited African Americans from testifying in California courts.

This compelling true story by award-winning author Jerry Stanley (Big Annie of Calumet: A True Story of the Industrial Revolution) recounts the history of African Americans in California during the incredibly complex and dramatic time of the gold rush, while focusing on the life and work of one determined man. Young readers who hope to change the world will be moved by the photos and historical drawings and inspired by the anecdotes and narratives that capture an era. (Ages 12 and older) --Emilie Coulter

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