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Grant number: FT-60654-13

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Stacey Leigh Smith
Oregon State University (Corvallis, OR 97331-8565)

An Empire for Freedom: Transcontinental Abolitionism and the Black Civil Rights Struggle in the Pacific West

This book recasts the history of the sectional crisis, the Civil War, and Reconstruction in the U.S. by recentering it in the American West. Upending the familiar regional narrative of this era that frames the conflict over slavery and black civil rights as a North-South struggle, the project uncovers the little known history of black and white abolitionists who migrated to California, Oregon, and British Columbia in the 1850s. It illuminates how these activists extended the abolitionist movement west, how they fought western anti-black legislation, and how their ambivalence toward other oppressed westerners—Chinese, Mexicans, and Indians—conflicted with their desire to dismantle white supremacy. West Coast activists' dilemma over whether to press only for expanded African American rights or to advocate full civil equality for all westerners helped shape federal racial policy during Reconstruction and reveals that the West played an integral role in the making of the post-war nation.

Project fields:
U.S. History

Summer Stipends

Research Programs

Total amounts:
$6,000 (approved)
$6,000 (awarded)

Grant period:
7/1/2013 – 8/31/2013