|Articles, Book/Video Reviews, History, Media Archive, United States on 2013-06-17 20:49Z by Steven|
Department of History
Jared Hardesty is a PhD candidate in history at Boston College and is currently writing a dissertation on slavery, freedom, and unfreedom in eighteenth-century Boston
Julie Winch, The Clamorgans: One Family’s History of Race in America. New York: Hill & Wang, 2011. 432 pp.
Governor Riggins, a leader of Boston’s nineteenth-century black community, once publicly admonished a fellow person of color, William Patterson, and took the opportunity to offer a lesson to the community at large. Patterson had purchased unlicensed liquor for some fellow African Americans, and the authorities in Boston caught him red-handed. In the midst of dressing Patterson down, Riggins expressed the hope that the “law will make you smart.” His proclamation to his fellow Afro-Bostonians—the law could be a source of empowerment for African Americans—may have been lost on Patterson, but it was a message that blacks across the United States heard loud and clear. Half a continent away in St. Louis, Missouri, the mixed-race grandsons of Jacques Clamorgan geared up to file suit and lay claim to their grandfather’s extensive lands. For them, Riggins’s message carried special resonance and an additional caveat. For the Clamorgan men, the law not only made them smart, but could also make them rich…
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