A Possible African-American Descendant of Andrew Jackson?

A recent correspondent sent me a link to a post on a possible African-American descendant of President Andrew Jackson. I have never heard of the enslaved family from which the correspondent is descended, but in their response to his query, Prof. Henry Lous Gates, Jr., and Katrina Fahy do a good job of examining the …

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Confronting Classism and Racism in Contemporary America: Two Recent Examples

Two conversations have taken place in the past 24 hours that reveal two different approaches to class and race in the United States. The first was Bethanie H. Tucker's talk at the Wisconsin Technical College System Conference. Granted, I am relying on Sara Goldrick-Rab's Storified timeline, which captures her tweets about the talk, but the sentiment of Tucker's …

From Life to Film: Solomon Northup’s Twelve Years a Slave

If you watched the Oscars last night, you are aware that Twelve Years a Slave won Best Picture. I have used Solomon Northup's narrative in my first-year U.S. survey courses on a couple of occasions, but the availability of the movie will probably force me to retire it as an option. Still, it's an engrossing story, …

Interview with Historian Gene Allen Smith

On Monday, I posted my review of Gene Smith's new book, The Slaves' Gamble: Choosing Sides in the War of 1812. Today, read an interview with Smith about his book and his future research plans. What led you to write The Slaves' Gamble? This book spawned from work with my major professor in graduate school …

Review of Smith, The Slaves’ Gamble

Gene Smith's new book on the African-American experience during the War of 1812 is the kind of book that should have been written a long time ago. The Slaves' Gamble: Choosing Sides in the War of 1812 places African Americans front-and-center in discussions about the period between the American Revolution and 1820. Smith, professor of history …

“Gender and Memory among Andrew Jackson’s Slaves: The Example of ‘Aunt’ Hannah”

As I have in the past, I am posting a link to my upcoming conference presentation at this year's SHEAR conference in St. Louis. The paper will be part of a Friday afternoon panel entitled, "Hannah, 'One-Eyed Sarah,' and Sarah Bass: Biography, Race, and Gender in the Early Republic and Caribbean." I plan to blog about …

BrANCH 2012: Rethinking Honour and Community

My panel was scheduled for Saturday afternoon. One of my c0-presenters, Ryan Quintana, is from Franklin and is teaching at Wellsley, so we compared notes about our geographic and family similarities. I'll be honest--I find it hard to pay attention during panels on which I am a presenter because I'm thinking about my own presentation. …

BrANCH 2012: Peter Parish Memorial Lecture: Second Slavery and the First (U.S.) Republic

Ed Baptist gave the Peter Parish Memorial Lecture on Friday evening. For someone who flew in shortly before his talk, I thought he did a great job. Baptist opened with a summary of Solomon Northup's life, ending with the observation that overlapping networks and competing claims saved Northup from murder and that financial networks enslaved …

BrANCH 2012: Uses and Abuses of African Americans in the 19th Century

The first BrANCH session I attended was "Exploration, Experiment, and Display: Uses and Abuses of African Americans in the Nineteenth Century." (Three caveats: I sat halfway back in a large tiered classroom and had a hard time hearing the two presenters at some points. The Powerpoints were also a bit hard to read due to …

Summer 2012 Research

My summer research agenda for 2012 was a bit different from the last two years I've written about here (2010) and here (2011). I sent off the Jackson manuscript to LSU Press right after the semester ended in May, so there wasn't anything to do in that regard. (I did start working on a skeleton …