Black Harrisburg’s Resistance to Slavery

In April 18, 1825, a fugitive slave from Mary­land was found by his owner in Harrisburg and was imprisoned in the Dauphin County jail. A hearing on the matter was held in the courthouse that day, with Judge Bucher presiding. It took most of the day to con­vince the Judge that the slave should be returned to the custody of the slaveholder, during which time, according to the Pennsylvania...
read more

Toward Freedom: Pittsburgh Blacks, 1800-1870

Throughout the antebellum period in the United States, two of the most volatile issues were the abolition of slavery and Blacks’ civil rights. Conventions, meetings, and written memorials to state and federal governmental bodies regarding these concerns abounded. Both Black and white residents of cities and towns became involved in the slavery question, while Black residents, primarily,...
read more

They Left with the British: Black Women in the Evacuation of Philadelphia, 1778

Black women were a small but important segment of the eighteenth-century Pennsylvania laboring classes. As slaves, as indentured servants, or as free persons of color, their options were extremely limited, but they could and did make decisions that affected their lives. The evacuation of Philadelphia by the British in 1778 during the Revolutionary War reveals the kinds of limited choices which...
read more

The Emergence of Black Religion in Pennsylvania, 1776-1850

The emergence of Black churches at the beginning of the nineteenth century was crucial to the survival of Black people in Pennsylvania and in the North because it provided two key resources. First, it provided a sense of meaning and destiny grounded in hope. Secondly, the Black church provided the institutional base for the economic, social, and political struggle of Blacks, including the...
read more

A Black Underground: Resistance to Slavery, 1833-1860

The Underground Railroad is an important historical link with which most Pennsylvanians are familiar. Ever since William Still, the Black histo­rian, published his famous record of fugitive aid in 1872, however, many have questioned whether in reality the Underground Railroad existed. Some say that fugitive aid in Pennsylvania was rendered individually and spontaneously. Others say that an...
read more

Blacks and the Labor Movement in Pennsylvania: The Beginnings

I It is important to understand the relationship be­ tween Black and white labor from the time of slavery to the Civil War in order to understand the position of Blacks in the early labor movement. Since the early trade unions were primarily for skilled workers, the elimination of Blacks from the skilled trades helps explain their absence from the unions. In addition, the conflict between white...
read more

The Search by Blacks For Employment and Opportunity: Industrial Education in Philadelphia

I Historian Sol Cohen describes the industrial­-education movement at the end of the nineteenth century as an effort to relegate the new immigrant to the lower levels of society. Placing emphasis on the “status rivalry” between the middle-class progressives and the new immigrant, Cohen views industrial education as the means used by the progressives to keep the immi­grant in his...
read more