Black Bondspeople, White Masters and Mistresses, and the Americanization of the Upper Mississippi River Lead District

in Journal of Global Slavery
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African Americans inhabited a multicultural spectrum of bondage and resistance in the antebellum Illinois-Wisconsin lead district. Contests between early Upper Mississippi River Valley Native American, French, and British inhabitants first forced bondspeople into the lead country. There, overlapping US and French practices of bondage and lengthy race-based indentures made a mockery of the Northwest Ordinance that forbade slavery, consigning black men and women to outright slavery at worst or a liminal, limited freedom at best. Bondage fractured families and imposed arduous mining and domestic labor upon African Americans. Simultaneously, it underpinned white Americans’ bids for supremacy in the region, making elite masculinity, protecting whiteness, promoting political advancement, and civilizing the “wilderness” in the process. In response to the miseries inflicted upon them, bondspeople pursued courtroom resistance and sought extralegal respite through religion and within military culture. Too often, their efforts yielded disappointment or devastation. Freedom eluded most until 1850.

Black Bondspeople, White Masters and Mistresses, and the Americanization of the Upper Mississippi River Lead District

in Journal of Global Slavery

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References

4

See Paul Finkelman“Evading the Ordinance: The Persistence of Bondage in Indiana and Illinois,” Journal of the Early Republic 9 (Spring 1989): 21–51; Finkelman An Imperfect Union: Slavery Federalism and Comity (Chapel Hill: University of North Carolina Press 2000); Keith Griffler Front Line of Freedom: African Americans and the Forging of the Underground Railroad (Lexington Ky.: University Press of Kentucky 2004); M. Scott Heerman “In a State of Slavery: Black Servitude in Illinois 1800–1830” Early American Studies 14 no. 1 (Winter 2016): 114–139; Steven Lubet Fugitive Justice: Runaways Rescuers and Slavery on Trial (Cambridge Mass.: Harvard University Press 2010); Michael McManus Political Abolitionism in Wisconsin1840–1861 (Kent Ohio: Kent State University Press 1998); Lea VanderVelde Redemption Songs: Suing for Freedom before Dred Scott (New York: Oxford University Press 2014); and Dana Elizabeth Weiner Race and Rights: Fighting Slavery and Prejudice in the Old Northwest (DeKalb Ill: Northern Illinois University Press 2013). Christopher Lehman Slavery in the Upper Mississippi Valley 1787–1865: A History of Human Bondage in Illinois Iowa Minnesota and Wisconsin (Jefferson NC: McFarland & Co. 2011) provides an introduction to the lead district but with limited attention to gender family servitude contingent emancipation and resistance and with minimal analysis of censuses and residents’ letters and memoirs.

5

Examples include James F. BrooksCaptives and Cousins: Slavery Kinship and Community in the Southwest Borderlands (Chapel Hill: University of North Carolina Press1994); Christina Snyder Slavery in Indian Country: The Changing Face of Captivity in Early America (Chapel Hill: University of North Carolina Press 2012); and Barbara Krauthamer Black Slaves Indian Masters: Slavery Emancipation and Citizenship in the Native American South (Chapel Hill: University of North Carolina Press 2013). Brett Rushforth Bonds of Alliance: Indigenous and Atlantic Slaveries in New France (Chapel Hill: University of North Carolina Press 2012) examines the colonial period.

7

Catherine AllgorParlor Politics In Which the Ladies of Washington Build a City and a Government (Charlottesville: University Press of Virginia2000).

9

Jeffrey Fynn-Paul“Empire, Monotheism and Slavery in the Greater Mediterranean Region from Antiquity to the Early Modern Era,” Past and Present 205 (Nov. 2009): 3–40.

11

Reuben Thwaites“Notes on Early Lead Mining in the Fever (or Galena) River Area,” Wisconsin Historical Society Collections 13 (1895): 276.

12

Lucy Eldersveld MurphyA Gathering of Rivers Indians Métis and Mining in the Western Great Lakes 1737–1832 (Lincoln: University of Nebraska Press2000) 79–80 84 92.

13

MurphyGreat Lakes Creoles27.

15

MurphyGathering of Rivers95.

16

Henry LeglerLeading Events of Wisconsin History: The Story of the State (Milwaukee: Sentinel Co.1898) 165.

17

Quoted in Carl EkbergFrench Roots in the Illinois Country: The Mississippi Frontier in Colonial Times (Urbana: University of Illinois Press2000) 103–104.

18

MurphyGathering of Rivers98.

19

Alec GilpinThe War of 1812 in the Old Northwest (East Lansing: Michigan State University Press2012) 245–248 261.

20

HurtIndian Frontier171–172; Michael Witgen An Infinity of Nations: How the Native New World Shaped Early North America (Philadelphia: University of Pennsylvania Press 2012) 346–347; “Treaty of Prairie du Chien” 1825 Wisconsin Historical Society Madison http://content.wisconsinhistory.org/cdm/ref/collection/tp/id/55642. Accessed 27 Mar. 2016.

21

Thwaites“Early Lead Mining” 84–87 286 290–291; Murphy Gathering of Rivers 101 111.

24

Moses Meeker“Early History of Lead Region of Wisconsin,” Wisconsin Historical Collections6 (1872): 280.

27

EkbergFrench Roots145–153.

28

Ibid.159–160.

32

Samuel MazzuchelliMemoirs Historical and Edifying of a Missionary Apostolic of the Order of Saint Dominic among Various Indian Tribes and among the Catholics and Protestants of the United States of America (Chicago: W.F. Hall1915) 141 244 263; Jones “Autobiography” 144.

34

DavidsonNegro Slavery in Wisconsin36.

35

John Hurd ed.Law of Freedom and Bondage in the United States Vol. 2 (Boston: Applewood1862) 133; Finkelman “Evading the Ordinance” 35–45.

36

Phillis indenture to Brown 14 Mar. 1845Jo Daviess County Commissioner’s Book 1838–1847 Galena Ill. For analysis of the constitution’s wording see Finkelman “Evading the Ordinance” 45–48.

39

Joan Cashin“Black Families in the Old Northwest,” Journal of the Early Republic 15 (Autumn 1995): 462; Max Grivno Gleanings of Freedom: Free and Slave along the Mason-Dixon Line 1790–1860 (Urbana: University of Illinois Press 2011) 180.

40

HurdLaw of Freedom138–139.

41

John Davidson“Some Distinctive Characteristics of the History of Our Lead Region,” in Proceedings of the State Historical Society of Wisconsin (Madison, Wis.: State Historical Society of Wisconsin1899) 188–190.

43

A. Field re Cherry 30 June 1830Jo Daviess County Circuit Court Book B 1829–1832 Galena Ill.

46

A. Field re Arch Davis 30 June 1830Jo Daviess County Circuit Court Book B 1829–1832 Galena Ill.

49

WeinerRace and Rights48 51–53.

50

DavidsonNegro Slavery in Wisconsin40–42.

53

Thwaites“Early Lead Mining” 276–277 281.

56

Davidson“Distinctive Characteristics” 191–192; Field re Cherry; Field re Davis.

57

SchoolcraftNarrative Journal348.

58

Richard HobbsGlamorous Galena: The Little Switzerland of Illinois (Galena: Gazette Print1939) 31.

59

Meeker“Early History of Lead Region” 282; Schoolcraft Narrative Journal 345.

60

Thwaites“Early Lead Mining” 280–283.

61

Nicole EtchesonThe Emerging Midwest: Upland Southerners and the Political Culture of the Old Northwest 1787–1861 (Bloomington: Indiana University Press1996) 29–32.

62

Meeker“Early History of Lead Region” 282.

63

MurphyGathering of Rivers124.

64

Quoted in LehmanSlavery in the Upper Mississippi Valley69.

65

MurphyGathering of Rivers82 98 132 150.

66

Susan Lee JohnsonRoaring Camp: The Social World of the California Gold Rush (New York: W.W. Norton2000) 114.

67

Rodolf“Pioneering” 343. Adele Gratiot “An Interesting Narrative: The Reminiscences of Adele P. Gratiot” Galena Weekly Gazette 2 May 1879.

68

Jones“Autobiography”144–146.

69

Lucy DelaneyFrom the Darkness Cometh the Light or Struggles for Freedom (St. Louis: J.T. Smith1891) 24–25.

70

Ibid.26. Regarding black laundress’ difficulties see Tera Hunter “To ’joy my freedom”: Southern Black Women’s Lives and Labors after the Civil War (Cambridge Mass.: Harvard University Press 1997).

71

Jones“Autobiography” 154–160.

72

Juliette KinzieWau-bun The Early Day in the Northwest (Philadelphia: Derby & Co.1873) 77.

73

Ibid.97.

74

Jones“Autobiography” 93.

75

Jones quoted in DavidsonNegro Slavery in Wisconsin37–38.

81

Untitled notice 6 Dec. 1828“Vital Statistics from Galena Newspapers 22 July 1828–1819 Nov. 1850 Marriages Petitions for Divorce Deaths Estate Notices and Sexton Reports” Robert Hanson Papers http://jodaviess.illinoisgenweb.org/vitals/VS1a.htm. Accessed 22 Mar. 2016.

83

Jones“Autobiography” 144.

85

Washburne“Col. Henry Gratiot” 257.

86

Jones“Autobiography” 98–103.

87

Map of Proposed Sinsinawa City 1835Historical Maps Collection Wisconsin Historical Society Madison.

88

Jones“Autobiography” 187–188 330.

89

Ibid. 96 145; Jones quoted in DavidsonNegro Slavery in Wisconsin37–38; Daniel Webster letter to George Jones 2 June 1836 Jones Papers.

91

Edward MathewsThe Autobiography of the Rev. E. Mathews (New York: Houlston & Wright1866) 69.

93

Edna Meudt“A Respectful Look at Henry Dodge 150 Years Later,” Wisconsin Academy Review (Dec. 1977): 3; 1840 and 1850 US Censuses Mineral Point Iowa County Wisconsin.

94

MurphyGathering of Rivers128.

95

TraskBlack Hawk72–75 206–208 220–238 282–293.

96

HurtIndian Frontier164–165.

97

Quoted in TraskBlack Hawk263.

100

Selena Dodge Truett“A Woman Pioneer’s Story,” Evening Wisconsin20 Feb. 1897.

101

Jones“Autobiography” 115.

102

FinkelmanImperfect Union146–178; VanderVelde Redemption Songs 143–158.

103

HurdLaw of Freedom132–133; Weiner Race and Rights 47.

105

Suzanne Cooper GuascoConfronting Slavery: Edward Coles and the Rise of Anti-Slavery Politics in Nineteenth-Century America (DeKalb, Ill.: Northern Illinois University Press2013) 111 124–129.

106

Merton Dillon“Abolitionism Comes to Illinois,” Journal of the Illinois Historical Society 53 no. 4 (Winter 1960): 391–400.

107

HobbsGlamorous Galena64–65 92; Bale “When the Gratiots Came to Galena” 678.

108

McManusPolitical Abolitionism in Wisconsin1–6.

109

MathewsAutobiography60–68; “An Abolitionist in Early Wisconsin: The Journal of Reverend Edward Mathews (part I)” Wisconsin Magazine of History 52 (Autumn 1968): 4.

110

MathewsAutobiography134 145; Lucius Matlack The History of American Slavery and Methodism From 1780 to 1849 … (New York: n.p. 1849) 90.

111

DavidsonNegro Slavery in Wisconsin45.

112

MathewsAutobiography134–135 145.

114

MathewsAutobiography125–130.

115

Ibid. 168–199; MatlackHistory of American Slavery and Methodism90–96; Lehman Slavery in the Upper Mississippi Valley 78.

116

VanderVeldeRedemption Songs39–56; Helen Tunnicliff Catterall “Some Antecedents of the Dred Scott Case” American Historical Review 30 (Oct. 1924): 60–61.

118

MathewsAutobiography72–73.

119

Drouin Collection; Bale“When the Gratiots Came to Galena” 667.

120

MazzuchelliMemoirs206 244 263; Mother Emily “Samuel Mazzuchelli Biographical Notes” 1898 14 Wisconsin Historical Society; Samuel Mazzuchelli letter to George Jones 20 Feb. 1836 Jones Papers.

121

KinzieWau-bun89–94.

123

Maria Douglass“Personal Recollections of Platteville,” Wisconsin Magazine of History 6 (Sept. 1922): 59–60.

Figures

  • View in gallery
    Figure 1

    Key locations in and near the Illinois-Wisconsin Lead District in relation to current United States county and state boundariesMap created by Kathryn Davis

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    Figure 2

    R.W. Chandler, “Map of the United States Lead Mines on the Upper Mississippi River,” 1829. Places where enslaved and indentured men and women worked include the Collett, Dodge, Gentry, Gratiot, Hamilton, Harris, Hough, Jones, Madden, Morrison, Rountree, and Terry mining operations.Detail from WHS-43572, Courtesy Wisconsin Historical Society

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