This project will create a continental history of the Underground Railroad (UGRR). Over the past few years, I have conducted National Endowment for the Humanities Summer Seminars on the UGRR, given papers at national conferences, published an essay, conducted some exploratory research and done a lot of reading. Now that my most recent project is in copyedits at its publisher, I am prepared to focus on the UGRR history. Briefly, my argument is that the UGRR in the decades before the American Civil War was part a longer and broader history of black flight from slavery, beginning with Spanish settlements and enslavement in sixteenth century New Spain, stretching into French and English conquest of eastern North America and into the eras of the American Revolution and republic. I will be sensitive to variables such as geography, war and peace, imperial and local development, and gender. I divide my study roughly into first conquests, 1500-1650; the colonial period, 1650-1770s, the Age of Revolution and Independence, 1776-1821 (when Mexico declares nationality), the antebellum period and last the American Civil War.
I prefer that students have taken courses in early American history and are or intend to become history majors.