Degrees Of Freedom: The Origins Of Civil Rights In Minnesota, 1865-1912 by William D. GreenDegrees Of Freedom: The Origins Of Civil Rights In Minnesota, 1865-1912 by William D. Green

Degrees Of Freedom: The Origins Of Civil Rights In Minnesota, 1865-1912

byWilliam D. Green

Hardcover | May 1, 2015

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He had just given a rousing speech to a crammed assembly in St. Paul, but Frederick Douglass, confidant to the Great Emancipator himself and conscience of the Republican Party, was denied a hotel room because he was black. This was Minnesota in 1873, four years after the state had approved black suffrage—a state where “freedom” meant being unshackled from chains but not social restrictions, where “equality” meant access to the ballot but not to a hotel or restaurant downtown.

Spanning the half century after the Civil War, Degrees of Freedom draws a rare picture of black experience in a northern state of this period and of the nature of black discontent and action within a predominantly white, ostensibly progressive society. William D. Green brings to light a full cast of little-known historical characters among the black men and women who moved to Minnesota following the Fifteenth Amendment; worked as farmhands and laborers; built communities (such as Pig’s Eye Landing, later renamed St. Paul), businesses, and a newspaper (the Western Appeal); and embodied the slow but inexorable advancement of race relations in the state over time. Within this absorbing, often surprising, narrative we meet “ordinary” citizens, like former slave and early settler Jim Thompson and black barbers catering to a white clientele, but also outsize figures of national stature, such as Frederick Douglass, Booker T. Washington, and W. E. B. Du Bois, all of whom championed civil rights in Minnesota. And we see how, in a state where racial prejudice and oppression wore a liberal mask, black settlers and entrepreneurs, politicians, and activists maneuvered within a restricted political arena to bring about real and lasting change.

William D. Green, professor of history at Augsburg College, is the author of A Peculiar Imbalance: The Rise and Fall of Racial Equality in Minnesota.
Title:Degrees Of Freedom: The Origins Of Civil Rights In Minnesota, 1865-1912Format:HardcoverDimensions:384 pages, 9 × 6 × 1.4 inPublished:May 1, 2015Publisher:University of Minnesota PressLanguage:English

The following ISBNs are associated with this title:

ISBN - 10:0816693463

ISBN - 13:9780816693467

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Table of Contents


Part I. The Barbers
1. When America Came to St. Paul
2. Maurice Jernigan Takes a Stand
3. On Becoming a Good Republican
4. The Sons of Freedom
Part II. The Entrepreneurs
5. Mr. Douglass and the Civilizable Characteristics of the Colored Race
6. Senate Bill No. 181
7. A Certain Class of Citizens
8. Professor Washington, Leader of the Race
9. The Renaissance of the Cake Walk
Part III. The Radicals
10. Wheaton and McGhee: A Tale of Two Leaders
11. The Election of J. Frank Wheaton
12. A Call to Action
13. A Defining Moment for McGhee
14. After St. Paul, Niagara
15. The Legacy
Epilogue: Time for a Different Tone of Advocacy

Editorial Reviews

"Accessible and illuminating, Green’s work is an indispensable too for understanding the long-view perspective on where we have been, and how we might get to where we want to be."—Minnesota Monthly"A meticulously researched examination of the involvement of African American men in Minnesota politics from the mid- nineteenth century until the early twentieth... Impressively detailed."—Middle West Review 2.2"Degrees of Freedom provides a deeply probing and elegantly written reexamination of black and white lives intertwining through race and region."—Minnesota History