Free Blacks in the North





Yennifer Delgado
Francis Orozco
Nicole Plummer
Jackie Rivas

New attitudes were seen towards the topic of slavery because of the Revolutionary War, especially in the North. It inspired a spirit of liberty and an appreciation of the work of the work of all black soldiers (slaves). Some of the Northern legislatures adopted laws during the late 1700s that provided for the end of slavery immediately or gradually. The census of 1790 revealed that the nation had about 59,000 free blacks and this included 27,000 from the North. After the Revolutionary War, a lot of the free blacks were able to find jobs at the tobacco plants, the textile mills, and other factories. Some found even better jobs, some became editors and others became merchants. One of the best editors were Samuel Cornish and John Russwurm, who helped start the first black newspaper in 1827. A lot of the whites treated the free blacks as if they were inferior to them. They were not allowed in certain places such as hotels, theaters, restaurants, and other public places. Other disadvantages that they had even though they were free was that they were not allowed to vote, and the children had to attend separate schools from the whites. Also
colleges and universities with the exception of Bowdoin and Oberlin, did not accept any blacks.

In the North as well as in the South inside the churches unless they were all blacks attending it, the blacks had to sit apart from the whites. In 1816, Richard Allen who was a black Philadelphia minister helped to establish the first black denomination in the country. The continuous increase of free blacks in the North as well as in the South was beginning to alarm the whites, and so they began stating some more constrictions with the activities the blacks had. In most of New England the blacks could not visit any town without a pass. By 1860, the nation had about 490,000 free blacks, and even though they were free they received so much discrimination that they thought they were only a little better off than the slaves. Most of the abolitionist leaders attacked slavery in their writings and their public speeches. William Lloyd
Garrison which was one of their leaders established an antislavery newspaper, called The Liberator, in 1831. Douglass, who was the most influential black leader published an abolitionists newspaper called The North Star in 1847. A tension that began in the South in 1859, led to raids which were said to begin or lead to fights between the North and the South.

Slavery became the leading issue in the U.S. presidential election of 1860. Many of the democrats in the North opposed to the spread of slavery. In November of 1860, Abraham Lincoln was elected president of the United States. At the start of the Civil War, his main purpose was not to end slavery but to preserve the Union. Lincoln knew that the Northerners were very hostile towards the Blacks and so they might oppose to the use of black troops in the war. As things developed through time, they slowly persuaded Lincoln to make the war a fight against slavery. Abolitionists and black leaders urged that the war be fought to end slavery, and they demanded the use of black troops. Since the war was going bad for the Union, by fighting against slavery Lincoln hoped to strengthen the war effort in the North and weaken it in the
South. In 1862, Lincoln gave Congress a plan for the gradual freedom of slaves, it included payment for the slave owners. A couple of months later, in July 1862, he was ready to accept all blacks in the Union Army. He issued a preliminary order to emancipate (free) the slaves in September. The final order for the freedom of the blacks in all of the states was issued on Jan.1, 1863, as the Emancipation Proclamation. 

More than 200,000 blacks fought with the Union in the War. The period after the war
was known as the Reconstruction period. A major problem during this period was that most of the freed slaves did not have a home, most were desperately poor, and most could not read or write. The Freedman's Bureau issued food and supplies to blacks, it set up more than 100 hospitals, resettled more than 30,000 people and founded over 4,300 schools. By the early 1870s, Northern whites had lost interest in the Reconstruction policies of the Republicans. Most of them wanted to put the reconstruction period behind and move on to other things. In 1877, the last federal troops were withdrawn, by the end of that year, the Democrats had all of the power in the South and the Republicans in the North.


Emancipation Proclamation
(5 images)

WB01343_1.gif (1341 bytes)WB01345_.gif (616 bytes)