Seeking Freedom in the Midst of Slavery: Fugitive Slaves in the Antebellum South

Thursday, January 7, 2016: 3:30 PM
Grand Hall C (Hyatt Regency Atlanta)
Damian Alan Pargas, Leiden University
Slave flight in the antebellum South did not always coincide with the political geography of freedom. Indeed, spaces and places within the South attracted the largest number of fugitive slaves. From the forests that bordered plantation districts (where slaves remained hidden and maintained by local slave communities) to southern cities (where slaves attempted to pass for free blacks), a majority of fugitive slaves strove for freedom by disguising themselves within the slaveholding states rather than risk long-distance flight attempts to formally free territories such as the northern US, Canada, and Mexico. This paper will briefly examine the experiences of fugitive slaves who remained in the South between 1800-1860 from a migration perspective. It will touch upon themes such as the networks that facilitated slave flight to various destinations, and, most importantly, the lot of refugees after arrival in urban areas.
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