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Toolbox Library, primary resources thematically organized with notes and discussion questionsOnline Seminars, professional development seminars for history and literature teachersThe Making of African American Identity: Volume I, 1500-1865
The Making of African American Identity: Volume I, 1500-1865
Theme: FreedomTheme: EnslavementTheme: CommunityTheme: IdentityTheme: Emancipation
Identity Menu

IDENTITY




Christian Fleetwood, portrait, ca. 1890

Framing Questions
  •  How did African Americans construct identity in antebellum America?
  •  How did enslaved and free blacks differ in their exercise of power and self-determination?
  •  How did African Americans define themselves as members of groups?


1.  Slave» Text Links / Note / Discussion Questions

- On being a slave, selections from 19th-c. narrative
- "I was born a slave," selections from Jacobs and Keckley narratives, 1860s
- "The position of the African slave," address by John S. Rock, 1858

2.  Slave to Free» Text Links / Note / Discussion Questions

- Slave to free, selections from 19th- & 20th-century narratives
- Letters from newly freed African Americans
  - From Cato to a Philadelphia newspaper, 1781
  - From Henry Bibb to his former slaveholder, 1844
  - From John Boston to his wife, 1862
- Newly arrived freedmen in Washington, DC, 1862, description in Keckley narrative

3.  Free-born» Text Links / Note / Discussion Questions

- A free man of color in the South, autobiography of Willis Hodges, written 1848-1849, excerpts
- A free woman of color in the North, journal of Charlotte Forten, 1854-1859, excerpts

4.  Entrepreneurs» Text Links / Note / Discussion Questions

- Tobacconist in North Carolina: Lunsford Lane, 1830s
- Shoemaker in Connecticut: William J. Brown, 1830s
- Sailmaker in Massachusetts: James Forten, 1830s
- Barber in Mississippi: William Johnson, 1830s-1840s
- Merchant in California: Mifflin Gibbs, 1850s-1860s
- Dressmaker in Washington, DC: Elizabeth Keckley, 1860s

5.  Artists» Text Links / Note / Discussion Questions

- Joshua Johnson, portrait paintings, ca. 1803-1810
- Robert Scott Duncanson, landscape paintings, 1848-1862
- David Drake, ceramic pots and verses, 1830s-1860s
- Augustus Washington, daguerreotypes, 1844-1877

6.  Poets» Text Links / Note / Discussion Questions

- Poem by Phillis Wheatley, 1773
- Poems and letter by George Moses Horton, ca. 1829-1865
- Poem by James Whitfield, 1853
- Puzzle poem by Benjamin Banneker, ca. 1792

7.  Soldiers» Text Links / Note / Discussion Questions

- A black soldier in the American army (Revolution), 1777-1783
- A black soldier in the British army (Revolution), 1770s-1780s
- A black soldier's letter to President Lincoln (Civil War), 1863
- Diary of a black Congressional Medal of Honor recipient (Civil War), 1864
- Photographs of a fugitive recruit in the Union army (Civil War), 1864

8.  Education» Text Links / Note / Discussion Questions

- On the pursuit of learning by antebellum African Americans, narrative selections, 19th-20th century
- On the drive for equal educational opportunity, two reports in The Anglo-African Magazine, 1859
- On teaching newly freed slaves in South Carolina, Charlotte Forten and the St. Helena Island freedmen's school, 1862

9.  Citizenship» Text Links / Note / Discussion Questions

- African Americans' campaign for citizenship rights, selections from speeches, petitions, editorials, convention declarations, etc., 1810s-1865

10.  Emigration» Text Links / Note / Discussion Questions

- The debate among African Americans on emigration and colonization, selections from speeches, essays, letters, and editorials, 1787-1864


Image: Christian Fleetwood, portrait (photograph), ca. 1890. Courtesy of the Library of Congress, Prints & Photographs Division.



IDENTITY
1. Slave   2. Slave to Free   3. Free-born   4. Entrepreneurs   5. Artists
6. Poets   7. Soldiers   8. Education   9. Citizenship   10. Emigration








TOOLBOX: The Making of African American Identity: Volume I, 1500-1865
Freedom | Enslavement | Community | Identity | Emancipation


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