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The First ReconstructionBlack Politics in America from the Revolution to the Civil War$
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Van Gosse

Print publication date: 2021

Print ISBN-13: 9781469660103

Published to North Carolina Scholarship Online: January 2022

DOI: 10.5149/northcarolina/9781469660103.001.0001

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We Think for Ourselves

We Think for Ourselves

Making the Battleground, 1822–1846

(p.377) Chapter 9 We Think for Ourselves
The First Reconstruction

Van Gosse

University of North Carolina Press

Beginning in the late 1830s, Black New Yorkers mobilized statewide to regain unrestricted suffrage, offering an organizing model for free people of color nationwide. Leaders like the young Henry Highland Garnet, Dr. James McCune Smith, Samuel Ringgold Ward, and the veteran Stephen Myers (an associate of Governor William Seward) built a network covering dozens of counties. With the radical antislavery Liberty Party putting pressure on the Whigs, this effort culminated in an 1846 referendum in which “Equal Suffrage for colored persons” was overwhelmingly defeated.

Keywords:   James McCune Smith, Henry Highland Garnet, Liberty Party, William Seward, Stephen Myers, 1846 Referendum, Samuel Ringgold Ward, New York, Suffrage

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