Our Executive Director Damian Pargas discusses his book Freedom Seekers: Fugitive Slaves in North America, 1800-1860 (2021) in the New Books Network Podcast.
In Freedom Seekers, Pargas introduces a new conceptualization of ‘spaces of freedom’ for fugitive slaves in North America between 1800 and 1860, and answers the questions: How and why did enslaved people flee to – and navigate – different destinations throughout the continent, and to what extent did they succeed in evading recapture and re-enslavement? Taking a continental approach, this study highlights the diversity of slave fight by conceptually dividing the continent into three distinct – and continuously evolving – spaces of freedom. Namely, spaces of informal freedom in the US South, where enslaved people attempted to flee by passing as free blacks; spaces of semi-formal freedom in the US North, where slavery was abolished but the precise status of fugitive slaves was contested; and spaces of formal freedom in Canada and Mexico, where slavery was abolished and runaways were considered legally free and safe from re-enslavement.
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