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Blackett to speak on slaves' quest for freedom before Civil War

By Ann Friou
University News Service
February 2, 2010

Richard Blackett

Richard Blackett

Richard J.M. Blackett, the Andrew Jackson Professor of History at Vanderbilt University will lecture on African American reactions to the Fugitive Slave Law of 1850 at Texas State University-San Marcos, Thursday, Feb. 18, 6:30-8:30 p.m. in Flowers Hall 230.

The talk, "Escaping Massa: Slaves and their quest for freedom before Civil War," is in celebration of African American History month.

Blackett will highlight the ways in which escaped American slaves influenced the politics of slavery in the United States in the years before the Civil War. The topic is of current interest as the United States approaches the sesquicentennial of the end of the Civil War.

Blackett is a prominent historian of the American abolition movement. He has written and edited numerous works, including Building an Antislavery Wall: Black Americans in the Atlantic Abolitionist Movement, 1830-1860 (1983); Beating Against the Barriers: Biographical Essays in Nineteenth-Century Afro-American History (1986); Thomas Morris Chester: Black Civil War Correspondent (1989); Divided Hearts: Britain and the American Civil War (2001); and Running a Thousand Miles for Freedom: The Escape of William and Ellen Craft from Slavery (1999). He is working on a study of the ways in which communities on both sides of the North-South divide organized to support or resist enforcement of the 1850 Fugitive Slave Law and the ways that slaves influenced antebellum debates concerning slavery.

The event, free and open to the public, is sponsored by the Texas State History Department and the Texas State Equity and Access Committee. A reception with refreshments will follow the talk.