Front Line of Freedom: African Americans and the Forging of the Underground Railroad in the Ohio Valley




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In “Front Line of Freedom,” Keith P. Griffler presents a groundbreaking perspective on the Underground Railroad, challenging the simplistic notion of white “conductors” and black “passengers.” By focusing on the Ohio River, the longest border between slavery and freedom, Griffler uncovers the pivotal role of African Americans in the fight against slavery within the river’s port cities and towns. This book explores the first successful interracial freedom movement in America, which aimed to transform not only the slave states south of the Ohio but also the free states to its north. Despite facing racial discrimination, mob violence, and white hostility, African Americans in the Ohio Valley worked tirelessly to establish and maintain their communities while assisting a constant influx of fugitives. Griffler’s work offers invaluable insights into the development of this secretive network and its evolution into a formidable force in antebellum America, highlighting the agency and resilience of African Americans in their quest for freedom.


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