Damian Alan PargasMar 13, 2023
Fugitive Slaves in North America, 1800–1860
Cambridge University Press 2021
In Freedom Seekers: Fugitive Slaves in North America, 1800–1860 (Cambridge UP, 2021), Damian Alan Pargas introduces a new conceptualization of 'spaces of freedom' for fugitive slaves in North America between 1800 and 1860, and answers the questions: How and why did enslaved people flee to – and navigate – different destinations throughout the continent, and to what extent did they succeed in evading recapture and re-enslavement? Taking a continental approach, this study highlights the diversity of slave fight by conceptually dividing the continent into three distinct – and continuously evolving – spaces of freedom. Namely, spaces of informal freedom in the US South, where enslaved people attempted to flee by passing as free blacks; spaces of semi-formal freedom in the US North, where slavery was abolished but the precise status of fugitive slaves was contested; and spaces of formal freedom in Canada and Mexico, where slavery was abolished and runaways were considered legally free and safe from re-enslavement.
Katrina Anderson is a doctoral candidate at the University of Delaware.