Although the passing of the Northwest Ordinance in 1787 banned African American slavery in the Upper Mississippi River Valley, making the new territory officially "free," slavery in fact persisted in the region through the end of the Civil War.
Slaves accompanied presidential appointees serving as soldiers or federal officials in the Upper Mississippi, worked in federally supported mines, and openly accompanied southern travelers. Entrepreneurs from the East Coast started pro-slavery riverfront communities in Illinois, Wisconsin, Iowa, and Minnesota to woo vacationing slaveholders.
Midwestern slaves joined their southern counterparts in suffering family separations, beatings, auctions, and other indignities that accompanied status as chattel. This revealing work explores all facets of the "peculiar institution" in this peculiar location and its impact on the social and political development of the United States.
Christopher P Lehman — Christopher P. Lehman is a professor of ethnic studies at St. Cloud State University in St. Cloud, Minnesota, and the author of three books about American popular culture.
Lehman, Christopher P. Slavery in the Upper Mississippi Valley, 1787-1865: a history of human bondage in Illinois, Iowa, Minnesota, and Wisconsin. McFarland, 2011. 222p bibl index afp; ISBN 9780786458721 pbk; ISBN 9780786485895 e-book, contact publisher for price. Reviewed in 2011dec CHOICE.
Lehman (St. Cloud State Univ.) presents a comprehensive examination of slavery in the Upper Mississippi Valley from the Northwest Ordinance through the Civil War. One of the author's more intriguing points is that federal officials routinely ignored federal law and allowed slavery to persist in areas where it was banned. A refreshing feature is the inclusion of information about what happened to the slaves themselves. The work is missing some discussion of what Upper Mississippi slavery meant in the overall scheme of slavery and the debate over the institution. There is also more discussion on Minnesota than the other regions. The extensive bibliography will be of use to other scholars studying the region.
Summing Up: Recommended. All levels/libraries. -- K. L. Gorman, Minnesota State University--Mankato