African American Lives in St. Louis, 1763–1865

Slavery, Freedom and the West


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About the Book

The African American presence in St. Louis began in 1763 with the arrival of several free men of color who accompanied Pierre Laclede from New Orleans to set up a fur trading fort on the Mississippi. Within a few decades, the fort had become a prosperous commercial center whose proximity to the western frontier attracted a cosmopolitan community.
African Americans in St. Louis—both slave and free—enjoyed greater autonomy and opportunity than those in urban areas of the South and East. Slaves in the city set legal precedent by filing hundreds of freedom suits, often based on the prohibition against slavery set by the Northwest Ordinance of 1787. After a century in the region, many blacks enlisted in the Union Army during the Civil War. Drawing on a wide range of sources, the author studies the history of slaves and free blacks in this city.

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About the Author(s)

Dale Edwyna Smith earned a doctorate in history of American civilization at Harvard University. Her previous publications include The Slaves of Liberty. She lives in Boston, Massachusetts.

Bibliographic Details

Dale Edwyna Smith
Format: softcover (6 x 9)
Pages: 216
Bibliographic Info: 18 photos, notes, bibliography, index
Copyright Date: 2017
pISBN: 978-1-4766-6683-9
eISBN: 978-1-4766-2757-1
Imprint: McFarland

Table of Contents

Table of Contents

Acknowledgments viii
Preface 1
Introduction 5
Prologue 15
1. Gateway to the West 19
2. The Color of Law 40
3. To the Frontier 63
4. “The dangerous class”: Women of Color and the St. Louis Frontier 74
5. Sold West: The Slave Trade and the Advancing Frontier 89
6. “Free with the world”: The Strange Case of Milton Duty 107
7. “As far as Kansas”: Slave Resistance in the Gateway 126
8. Standing Ground: Free People of Color and the St. Louis Land Court 133
9. The Civil War 154
Epilogue. The Bond of Color: St. Louis People of Color and the West 171
Chapter Notes 175
Works Cited 195
Index 201