When Idealistic New Englanders Moved to Kansas Territory to ‘Put an End to Slavery’

Hundreds of Abolitionists Founded Manhattan, Kansas, in the Hope of Creating a Free State

When a Union soldier from upstate New York marched through Manhattan, Kansas, during the dismal Civil War summer of 1862, he was astounded: “All at once, as if by magic, a beautiful village rose around us, with large commodious churches, hotels, stores and [a] schoolhouse. We were surprised and delighted to see, where we supposed at most a few settlers’ cabins, a village combining the neatness, thrift, and comfort of New England, with the freshness and fine natural scenery of the West. Such is Manhattan, standing at the advance guard …

A Poem That Would Not Let Me Go | Zocalo Public Square • Arizona State University • Smithsonian

A Poem That Would Not Let Me Go

When I Found Multiple Truths in the Work of 18th-Century Poet Phillis Wheatley, She Became Some Kind of Kin

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I do not remember how old I was when my grandmother showed me Phillis Wheatley’s poetry. Ten, maybe 11? Young enough that my hands were open to everything she put …

The 60,000-Strong Jamaican Uprising That Changed the Very Nature of Revolt | Zocalo Public Square • Arizona State University • Smithsonian

The Uprising of 60,000 Jamaicans That Changed the Very Nature of Revolt

Just Months After the Groundbreaking 1831 Rebellion, the British Empire Abolished Slavery

In the summer of 1831, a select group of enslaved people in northwest Jamaica began murmuring to each other about “the business.”

To mention the fledgling enterprise in the presence …

The ‘Ferociously Contested’ Story of How Blackness Became a Legal Identity | Zocalo Public Square • Arizona State University • Smithsonian

The ‘Ferociously Contested’ Story of How Blackness Became a Legal Identity

In Cuba, Virginia, and Louisiana, Colonial Laws Defining ‘Freedom’ Still Affected the Status of Citizens Centuries Later

How did Africans become “blacks” in the Americas?

Those who were forced into the ships of the infamous slave trade probably thought of themselves using ethnic and territorial terms that …

The Heartbreaking Love Letters That Spurred an Ohio Blacksmith to Join John Brown’s Raid | Zocalo Public Square • Arizona State University • Smithsonian

The Heartbreaking Love Letters That Spurred an Ohio Blacksmith to Join John Brown’s Raid

Dangerfield Newby’s Enslaved Wife Wrote Increasingly Desperate Missives That Inspired Her Husband to Join the Abolitionist Rebellion

Every October 16 marks the anniversary of John Brown’s historic raid on Harpers Ferry in West Virginia in 1859. Accompanied by 18 supporters, Brown, a radical abolitionist, hoped to …

How Jamestown Abandoned a Utopian Vision and Embraced Slavery | Zocalo Public Square • Arizona State University • Smithsonian

How Jamestown Abandoned a Utopian Vision and Embraced Slavery

In 1619, Wealthy Investors Overthrew the Charter That Guaranteed Land for Everyone

In the summer of 1619, some of England’s first American colonists were carving up land seized from the Powhatan empire along the James River in Virginia. While the first settlers …