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tv   Canadian Border During Reconstruction  CSPAN  August 12, 2019 7:48pm-8:01pm EDT

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the title of your paper here at the meeting is crossing the border after the underground railroad. african-- returning from canada. people may have heard about the underground railroad and why were slaves trying to escape to canada? >> it's really a whole set of things together. it is some rails, some roads, with people really trying to get out of slavery. sometimes that was in the northern states, sometimes that was in mexico and famously it was going all the way to canada. to be in a completely different country and free from the chance they could get recaptured. >> what was the journey like? where are slaves at this time and how were they making that turning?
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the northwest. they really are everywhere. and often they would take the opportunity to work with the network to seek freedom. but what is a story that stands out to you in your research of the slaves that making that journey? >> i'm really focused on what happens after they are in canada. one of the settlements is the town of buxton. they take a group of slaves from the south. he's go all the way to ontario and set up a community of a formerly enslaved people and help them to set up a community
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of their own . >> also what did setting up a community entail? but these were places where there were not outlawed of european americans. they are agricultural communities. there were people there that have escaped slavery and they went to toronto and montrial. it was a really diverse set of experiences north of the border. and i'm trying to find people who were in all these places. but what was their life like it there if they had stayed and gone somewhere else in the united states? >> in 1850 people began to feel like the north wasn't a safe. they think people are going to be kidnapped out of northern cities and they are no longer safe in ohio or new york and they need to go all the way into canada. there is a sense that there is not going to be anything like free territory. whether it was california or
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illinois. and people need to get out of that and moved to a completely different country. and they see that as a chance to have that freedom that they couldn't have anywhere the united states. but what was there life like. how are they living their lives? >> they are trying to make it the best they can. the group in the farm community started to farm tobacco. and in places like toronto there doing domestic work. trying to find opportunities to go to school and move up. and there is a group that goes all the way to british columbia and they get involved in the gold rush. and they seek their fortune on that coast. but do they return to the united states? and if so, what time? >> we think of the underground railroad in the civil war and we take our eye off the people that were running the
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underground railroad. a lot of them came back into the united states. a lot of them come to northern cities like chicago, detroit, buffalo. some of them headed to washington, d.c. some of them headed to washington, d.c. which was a major place for african-americans. in many headed back to southern committees to try to reconnect with people they had known, or find groups there were in a position to make change and be part of that change. i'm really tracking all kinds of movement back out of canada after the underground railroad . >> why do they want to come back? what gives them hope? spent a lot of them saw themselves as members of the united states. they really wanted to be united states citizens. and slavery was making that impossible. with the civil war and the end of slavery, there were a number of political leaders who say this is our chance. we're going to go be part of a reconstruction government, were going to be part of the
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opportunity for black people to have equal rights in the united states. but what was it like for former slaves returning versus the people who'd stayed in the united states and then became free? did they have different lives? that's a big question for this project. i have to understand about people that lived in communities in upstate new york or boston. and whether the experience of being in canada under the british empire, having a different education system and a different set of her rights. how that impacted how people work together? it is ongoing research and i'm trying to figure that out. some people felt very safe and free in boston, new york , or chicago. but others felt like there was something different about being in canada. you give them an opportunity think of themselves as british or american. citizens of the world. and i'm sorting all of that out. speaking your initial research have you seen what these returning americans expect life
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to be like? >> and some of them really hope that the promise of the end of slavery will mean equal rights for all. marianne carey was an active journalist in ontario. and she been fighting for fugitive slave and equal rights. she moved to washington, d.c. after the civil war decided that she wanted to go to howard at law school and get an education. and as an african- american woman in that. and fight for statehood and equal rights. she sought as a constant civil rights battle. other people come back to united states because they think it can be better for a job. they don't think it is a political move. some of those people come from windsor into detroit and say see opportunities in michigan that they didn't see in ontario. there's a whole mix of motives and stories. and i'm trying to sort out how to bring those things together. but what kind of jobs were they
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returning to in america? in the late 19th century , there were african-americans coming out of canada who specifically were porters on the railroad, some that were working as hotel staff. they had a british accent and education. by the turn of the 20th century, we actually right before the great migration without william perry. the first african-american who works for the ford motor company. he happen to know henry ford. he is from amherst ontario. he's part of the group coming back from canada into united states. i feel it before company celebrated here but they have not told the canadian part of the story. and i'm trying to bring that in. the border parse part and how it structured their families. a lot of people were linked to
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individual families. but people didn't necessarily care if they lived in michigan, ontario, niagara falls, whether was on the new york or the canadian side. i'm using census records, family collections. we have lots of interesting photographs. people at picnics in homecomings . having annual reunions with their cousins across the border. i'm looking in newspapers. i'm finding political documents and arguments the same that i spend time in canada and now i think about things differently here. there was a lot of pieces of evidence that i'm trying to weave together into a bigger story about people we know really well. in other people we don't know a lot about at all. but the canadian government keep track of who was coming and going from the country? are there records that you're looking at? but the u.s. census was interested but they don't keep
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track of religion. canadian census does not mark race but they do market religion. i look for people who were marked born as canada bud black. and the canadian census you can see them born in the united states and baptist. which would be a traditional african-american church group. also the u.s. counsel, the embassy in these little towns. after the civil war, these tiny towns of ontario they had mostly black americans. they set up offices. the american government and canada was related to these individuals. >> thank you so much professor. my pleasure. featuring american history programs that are available every week on c-span3. real america, the civil war, the presidency, and special
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coming up next on american history tv. a look at congressional history. first the u.s. capital historical society host an event celebrating the hundred and 16th congress. which started in january. after that house speaker house speaker nancy pelosi leading an event of the passage of the 19th amendment. from the u.s. capital historical society. a celebration of the hundred and 16th congress. we hear from


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