Dr. Adam Arenson discusses his ongoing research about African North Americans—those men and women, born free or enslaved, who crossed or re-crossed the U.S.-Canada border in the era of emancipation, Civil War, and Reconstruction. We will discuss how difficult it is to determine how many fugitive slaves and free blacks were in Canada; the history of the more than 600 African North Americans who returned to fight for the U.S. Colored Troops; the thousands more who returned to the United States in the decades that followed; the hundreds of men, women, and children who traveled north to Canada after emancipation; and even the reason Civil War records are filled with fake claims of Canadian and other citizenship.
Dr. Adam Arenson is an associate professor of history and the director of the urban studies program at Manhattan College. He is the author of the award-winning The Great Heart of the Republic: St. Louis and the Cultural Civil War (Harvard, 2011 — now out in paperback from Missouri, 2015); as well as co-editor of Civil War Wests: Testing the Limits of the United States (California, 2015) and Frontier Cities: Encounters at the Crossroads of Empire (Penn, 2013). He is researching a book about African North Americans crossing the US-Canada border during and after the Civil War.