By Prof. Erica Armstrong Dunbar
This booklet is the 1st to chronicle the lives of African American ladies within the city north throughout the early years of the republic. a delicate Freedom investigates how African American ladies in Philadelphia journeyed from enslavement to the precarious prestige of “free folks” within the many years major as much as the Civil battle and examines related advancements within the towns of latest York and Boston. Erica Armstrong Dunbar argues that early nineteenth-century Philadelphia, the place so much African americans have been unfastened, enacted one of those practice session for the nationwide emancipation that within the post–Civil struggle years. She explores the lives of the “regular” ladies of antebellum Philadelphia, the loose black associations that took root there, and the formerly unrecognized value of African American girls to the heritage of yank cities. (20090301)
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Extra info for A Fragile Freedom: African American Women and Emancipation in the Antebellum City (Society and the Sexes in the Modern Worl)
The nature of their work depended on their location. Slaves who were suited for labor in both the city and the countryside were seen as especially valuable. One of the earliest colonial newspapers, the Pennsylvania Gazette, concentrated on news in Philadelphia and the surrounding areas, 16 Slavery and the “Holy Experiment” advertising the sale of property such as homes, horses, and slaves. ”29 As a young female slave familiar with the varied skills necessary for domestic work, she most likely would have fetched a reasonable price.
Kerr was to serve her mistress faithfully, and in return she would receive “sufficient meat, drink, apparel, lodging and washing, fitting for an apprentice,” as well as training in housewifery, a skill that would prepare Kerr to be a domestic. In addition to her receiving the basic necessities, Kerr’s indenture also noted that she was to be instructed in how to read, write, and cipher. 3 Kerr’s contract of service tells us very little about her relationship with her mistress, yet it does offer several important clues regarding their life together.
Manumitting one’s slave in the eighteenth century was no simple act, which made the possibility of black freedom difficult. By 1726 the Pennsylvania Assembly demanded that a bond be placed on the head of every emancipated African. If a slaveholder wished to manumit his slave, for religious or financial reasons, he was forced to present a £30 bond, since free blacks in colonial Pennsylvania were considered to be a nuisance or, worse, a danger. 21 Blacks who were considered vagrants could be indentured, and a free black man could be sold back into slavery if he married a white woman.
A Fragile Freedom: African American Women and Emancipation in the Antebellum City (Society and the Sexes in the Modern Worl) by Prof. Erica Armstrong Dunbar