The Fugitive Slave Act and the Refugee Crisis of the 1850s: A View from Lancaster County, Pennsylvania
Author(s): James A. Delle
This is an abstract from the session entitled "Bridging Connections and Communities: 19th-Century Black Settlement in North America" , at the 2020 annual meeting of the Society for Historical Archaeology.
The Fugitive Slave Act of 1850 exacerbated the refugee crisis of the mid-19th century. While an untold number of enslaved people had fled into the northern US prior to 1850, the provisions of the law made residence in the northern states increasingly dangerous for all African Americans. As the broad powers of the law enabled the capricious detention and deportation of people into slavery, violent attacks against black people increased in frequency. To counter this violence, communities banded together in mutual self-defense. This paper examines the archaeological evidence of the Parker House in rural Lancaster County, the site of a remarkable instance of armed struggle against those empowered by the Fugitive Slave Act. The protagonist of this story, William Parker, had himself escaped slavery to settle in Pennsylvania, but like many whose safety could not be assured in the US in the end fled north to Ontario.
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The Fugitive Slave Act and the Refugee Crisis of the 1850s: A View from Lancaster County, Pennsylvania. James A. Delle. 2020 ( tDAR id: 456877)
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