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Fugitive Slave Act of 1850

Of all the bills that made up the Compromise of 1850, the Fugitive Slave Act was the most controversial. It required citizens to assist in the recovery of fugitive slaves. It denied a fugitive’s right to a jury trial. The act called for changes in filing for a claim, making the process easier for slave-owners. Also, according to the act, there would be more federal officials responsible for enforcing the law.Continue Reading »

Plessy v. Ferguson (1896)

Written by Stephen Jager, independent historian. Plessy v. Ferguson (1896) was the Supreme Court decision that judicially validated state sponsored segregation in public facilities by its creation and endorsement of the “separate but equal” doctrine.Continue Reading »

Civil Rights Act of 1875

“Senator Charles Sumner introduced the Civil Rights Act in 1870… The bill guaranteed all citizens, regardless of color, access to accommodations, theatres, public schools, churches, and cemeteries. The bill further forbid the barring of any person from jury service on account of race, and provided that all lawsuits brought under the new law would be tried in federal, not state, courts.”Continue Reading »

Act to Prohibit the Importation of Slaves 1807

The ten sections of the 1807 act were designed to eliminate all American participation in the trade. Section 1 set the tone. After January 1, 1808, it would “not be lawful to import or bring into the United States or the territories thereof from any foreign kingdom, place, or country, any negro, mulatto, or person of colour, with intent to hold, sell, or dispose of such [person] … as a slave, to be held to service or labour.” The act provided an enormous penalty — up to $20,000 — for anyone building a ship for the trade or fitting out an existing ship to be used in the trade.Continue Reading »

The American Revolution Era (1763 – 1783)

Underneath the apparent calm of the early 1770s, many Americans continued to resent Britain’s heavy-handed enforcement of the Navigation Acts and the continued presence of a standing army. Colonists continued to talk among themselves, through newspapers, pamphlets, and broadsides, in colonial assemblies, and in such public places as coffee houses and taverns. In 1773, a new act of Parliament, the Tea Act, ended any semblance of calm.Continue Reading »

Bly, Nellie (1864-1922)

The year was eighteen eighty-seven. The place was New York City. A young woman, Elizabeth Cochrane, wanted a job at a large newspaper. The editor agreed, if she would investigate a hospital for people who were mentally sick and then write about it. She decided to become a patient in the hospital herself. She used the name Nellie Brown so no one would discover her or her purpose. Newspaper officials said they would get her released after a while.

To prepare, Nellie put on old clothes and stopped washing. She went to a temporary home for women. She acted as if she had severe mental problems. She cried and screamed and stayed awake all night. The police were called. She was examined by doctors. Most said she was insane.Continue Reading »

Livermore, Mary Ashton Rice (1820-1905)

Mary Livermore was born on December 19, 1820, in Boston, Massachusetts. She was an American suffragist and social reformer who lectured and wrote for religious and reform periodicals. She served as president of the American Woman Suffrage Association, the Association for the Advancement of Women and the Massachusetts Woman’s Christian Temperance Union. Livermore died in 1905.Continue Reading »

Foster, Abigail Kelley – (1811-1887)

Abby Kelley spoke at the 1838 Anti-Slavery Convention in Philadelphia, breaking the cultural rules of her time by addressing a mixed audience of men and women. The meeting was highly controversial, and after it ended, protestors burned the newly built facility to the ground. Two years later, at the 1840 American Anti-Slavery Society’s annual meeting, she broke another cultural rule and effectively split the anti-slavery movement by asserting woman’s equality. Male abolitionists demonstrated their conservatism on women’s rights: when William Lloyd Garrison appointed Kelley to the society business committee, about half of the members resigned and formed their own rival group .Continue Reading »

Dickinson, Anna (1842-1932)

Anna Dickenson began her activism even earlier, when she was thirteen years old, by writing an essay for William Lloyd Garrison’s famed newspaper, The Liberator. She also was friendly with Lucretia Mott, who preached against slavery in Quaker meetinghouses for decades. Unlike others of the era’s religions, Quakers encouraged women to speak in public, and under Mott’s leadership, some eight hundred Philadelphians bought tickets for Dickinson’s first major speech early in 1861, “The Rights and Wrongs of Women.”Continue Reading »

Ward, Nancy or Nanye-hi – (1738-1822)

Nanye-hi’s husband, with whom she had two children, was killed in a raid on the Creeks, the Cherokee’s land rivals, during the 1755 Battle of Taliwa. Nanye-hi fought by his side, chewing the lead bullets for his rifle to make them more pointed and deadly. When the enemy killed him, she rallied the Cherokee warriors, leading a charge that brought victory to the Cherokees. Because of her actions, the Cherokee clans chose her as Ghighau, or the “Beloved Woman.” In this powerful position, her opinion was influential in the tribal government because the Cherokees believed that the Great Spirit could speak through the Beloved Woman. As Beloved Woman, Nanye-hi headed the Women’s Council, sat on the Council of Chiefs, and had complete power over prisoners. Continue Reading »

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