Counterfeit Kin: Kidnappers of Color, the Reverse Underground Railroad, and the Origins of Practical Abolition

Counterfeit Kin: Kidnappers of Color, the Reverse Underground Railroad, and the Origins of... <p>Abstract:</p><p>This article examines the roles of black and mixed-race operatives in the criminal human trafficking networks that kidnapped and consigned to slavery thousands of free people of color in the early nineteenth century. The first section explores the distinctive abilities, modus operandi, and motivations of these unexpected and largely overlooked conductors on this Reverse Underground Railroad. The second section triangulates their behavior not only against that of confidence men and counterfeiters working in the shadows of the emerging capitalist economy in the early republic, but also in relationship to that of the many African-descended men and women in the long history of American slavery whose actions thwarted other black people&apos;s dreams of liberty. The final section interrogates the distinctive ways in which free black families, neighborhoods, and communities responded to the threat posed by kidnappers of color. It argues that the efforts of black urban dwellers to publicly denounce, promptly apprehend, and violently punish by extralegal means these pernicious predators served to elaborate a new form of direct antislavery action, an early and formative species of the sort of &apos;practical abolition&apos; activities more typically associated with the aftermath of the passage of the Fugitive Slave Law of 1850.</p> http://www.deepdyve.com/assets/images/DeepDyve-Logo-lg.png Journal of the Early Republic University of Pennsylvania Press

Counterfeit Kin: Kidnappers of Color, the Reverse Underground Railroad, and the Origins of Practical Abolition

Journal of the Early Republic, Volume 38 (2) – Jun 4, 2018

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Publisher
University of Pennsylvania Press
Copyright
Copyright © 2008 Society for Historians of the Early American Republic.
ISSN
1553-0620

Abstract

<p>Abstract:</p><p>This article examines the roles of black and mixed-race operatives in the criminal human trafficking networks that kidnapped and consigned to slavery thousands of free people of color in the early nineteenth century. The first section explores the distinctive abilities, modus operandi, and motivations of these unexpected and largely overlooked conductors on this Reverse Underground Railroad. The second section triangulates their behavior not only against that of confidence men and counterfeiters working in the shadows of the emerging capitalist economy in the early republic, but also in relationship to that of the many African-descended men and women in the long history of American slavery whose actions thwarted other black people&apos;s dreams of liberty. The final section interrogates the distinctive ways in which free black families, neighborhoods, and communities responded to the threat posed by kidnappers of color. It argues that the efforts of black urban dwellers to publicly denounce, promptly apprehend, and violently punish by extralegal means these pernicious predators served to elaborate a new form of direct antislavery action, an early and formative species of the sort of &apos;practical abolition&apos; activities more typically associated with the aftermath of the passage of the Fugitive Slave Law of 1850.</p>

Journal

Journal of the Early RepublicUniversity of Pennsylvania Press

Published: Jun 4, 2018

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