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On the Edge of Freedom


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Table of Contents

List of Tables xi Acknowledgments xiii Introduction: The Fugitive Slave Issue on the Edge of Freedom | 1 1 South Central Pennsylvania, Fugitive Slaves, and the Underground Railroad | 12 2 Thaddeus Stevens' Dilemma, Colonization, and the Turbulent Years of Early Antislavery in Adams County, 1835-39 | 39 3 Antislavery Petitioning in South Central Pennsylvania | 70 4 The Fugitive Slave Issue on Trial: The 1840s in South Central Pennsylvania | 87 5 Controversy and Christiana: The Fugitive Slave Issue in South Central Pennsylvania, 1850-51 | 115 6 Interlude: Kidnapping, Kansas, and the Rise of Race-Based Partisanship: The Decline of the Fugitive Slave Issue in South Central Pennsylvania, 1852-57 | 140 7 Revival of the Fugitive Slave Issue, 1858-61 | 147 8 Contrabands, "White Victories," and the Ultimate Slave Hunt: Recasting the Fugitive Slave Issue in Civil War South Central Pennsylvania | 174 9 After the Shooting: South Central Pennsylvania after the Civil War | 199 Conclusion: The Postwar Ramifications of the Fugitive Slave Issue "On the Edge of Freedom" | 213 Appendixes A. Selected Fugitive Slave Advertisements, 1818-28 | 218 B. 1828 South Central Pennsylvania Petition Opposing Slavery in the District of Columbia | 225 C. 1847 Gettysburg African American Petition | 227 D. 1846 Adams County Petition | 229 E. 1861 Franklin County Pro-Colonization Petition | 234 F. 1861 Adams County Pro-Colonization Petition | 236 G. [Second] 1861 Adams County Pro-Colonization Petition | 238 H. 1861 Doylestown, Bucks County Pro-Colonization Petition | 240 I. 1861 Newtown, Bucks County Pro-Personal Liberty Law Petition | 243 Notes 247 Archives Consulted 311 Index 315

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An engagingly written, meticulously documented study of antislavery ferment just north of the Mason-Dixon line in a region of geographical, economic, cultural, and historical "edges".

About the Author

DAVID G. SMITH received his Ph.D. in American History from the Pennsylvania State University in 2006. He is a social historian of the Civil War period whose research centers on the intersection of war, societal conflict, and race. He currently works as a consultant to the Department of Defense.


"David Smith's On The Edge of Freedom is the most nuanced, detailed and sophisticated study of the Underground Railroad in rural Pennsylvania that I have ever read. Based on a wide variety of primary sources, this study offers a series of fresh insights about how the fugitive crisis along the Mason-Dixon Line directly impacted the wider national struggle over slavery and union."-Matthew Pinsker, Dickinson College "David G. Smith has delivered a revelatory portrait of one of the most important political battlegrounds of antebellum America, where networks of fugitive slaves, slave-catchers, informers, and Underground Railroad activists lived side by side in a tangled web. He sheds much new light on the struggle of the abolitionism to take route in southern Pennsylvania's difficult soil, and challenges cherished preconceptions of the North as solidly anti-slavery and friendly to fugitive slaves. In the process, he has given us a deeper understanding of the daunting moral complexities of life in the pre-Civil War borderland. This is a book to be reckoned with."-Fergus M. Bordewich, author of America's Great debate: Henry Clay, Stephen A. Douglas, and the Compromise that Preserved the Union "In this well wrought and powerful narrative, Smith examines the vital borderland of south central Pennsylvania. Challenging scholars to re-think our understanding of the fugitive slave law, Smith examines that issue through white and black perspectives over nearly fifty years of sectional conflict, war, and reconstruction. This is an important contribution to our understanding of how war itself intensified the fugitive slave issue and redirected it. Smith's thorough appendices demonstrate remarkable and comprehensive research reflected in this important narrative."-Orville Vernon Burton, author of The Age of Lincoln "Solidly researched and documented."-Christopher Densmore, Friends Historical Library of Swarthmore College "...On The Edge of Freedom is a thoroughly researched, informative, and engaging piece of scholarship."-The Civil War Book Review "David Smith has produced a fascinating study of 19th-century race realtions in the border area of Pennsylvania, which is not usually thought of as a border state."-Civil War News

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