On August 21 and 22, 1850, a group of fugitive enslaved people and their white supporters met in Cazenovia, New York. During their meeting, the fugitives read a letter to their brothers and sisters still held in bondage in the South. They encouraged enslaved people to stand strong and to resist their masters’ tyranny as they were able. Moreover, they noted that, were a time of slave insurrection to come, “the great majority of the colored men of the North…will be found by your side.”

Their encouragement was tempered, however, with a sober reality check. “The priests and churches of the North, are, with comparatively few exceptions, in league with the priests and the churches of the South,” they stated. For this reason, any Black Southerner attempting to escape enslavement ought to take a cautious approach to white Northerners, even abolitionists, who might present themselves as friends. Instead, fugitives were encouraged to look to their fellow Black brothers and sisters as sources of solidarity and support in their pursuit of liberty.

Some historians have missed the truth presented by the 1850 Cazenovia convention: that free and enslaved Blacks were the most vocal and active advocates for freedom. In many historical accounts of abolition, their role has been forgotten or dismissed by scholars focusing on political approaches to emancipation.

In her book The Gospel of Freedom: Black Evangelicals and the Underground Railroad, Alicestyne Turley re-centers the work of Black evangelicals in the narrative of emancipation, emphasizing the importance of antebellum Kentucky.

Turley, the founding director of the Underground Railroad Research Institute at Georgetown College in Kentucky, focuses on ...

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The Gospel of Freedom: Black Evangelicals and the Underground Railroad
Our Rating
4 Stars - Excellent
Book Title
The Gospel of Freedom: Black Evangelicals and the Underground Railroad
Author
Publisher
University Press of Kentucky
Release Date
August 16, 2022
Pages
306
Price
40.0
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