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Terri L. Snyder
California State University, Fullerton (Fullerton, CA 92831-3599)
Marriage, Race, and the Meaning of Freedom in Early America

I am seeking a Faculty Fellowship to support my book-length study of the changing meanings of marriage, race, and freedom in early North America from the earliest period of settlement through the American Revolution. My study relies on the collective histories of free families of color in the early South, especially those in which wives headed households, in order to understand the legal means by which families protected their precarious freedom against escalating odds. After the turn of the eighteenth century, colonial North American policymakers increasingly restricted the rights of free people of color in efforts to push them closer to slavery. In response, free people of color made the most of the legal protections of marriage, the anomalous position of women of color under the law, and local and regional networks in order to maintain the fragile freedom of their families. Their actions constituted, I argue, some of the earliest, if individualistic, anti-slavery activism in early North America.

Project fields:
African American History; U.S. History; Women's History

Awards for Faculty

Research Programs

$42,000 (approved)
$42,000 (awarded)

Grant period:
1/1/2015 – 10/31/2015