Historian Alice L. Baumgartner tells the story of why Mexico abolished slavery and how its increasingly radical antislavery policies fueled the sectional crisis in the United States. This is an account of the coming of the American Civil War, showing the crucial role of slaves who escaped to Mexico.
The story of how Black people in a slaveholding society affected federal policy by their movements, by their defiance and by their very existence has been told before. But rarely has this story been told as compassionately, or rendered as beautifully ... Significantly, [the] author take[s] the long tradition of Black resistance as a given; the book [is] not [a] study of racial exceptionalism, but of Black political agency as a persistent current ... masterfully researched, yet [the authors] greatest contribution lies in the radical implications of [his] thesis: that 19th-century American politics were shaped as much by Black resistance to enslavement as by the institution of slavery itself ... Baumgartner’s placement of fugitive slaves at the center of this story is not merely cosmetic. The fact that the commander in Nacogdoches wrestled with whether to grant them freedom, despite the legal precedent for doing so, shows how slavery, emancipation and empire were constantly renegotiated based on enslaved people’s movements across geographical and political boundaries.
Her book shows that 'enslaved people who escaped to Mexico . . .contributed to the outbreak of a major sectional controversy over the future' of slavery in the U.S ... Many individuals on all sides are portrayed here, but the most compelling stories are those of enslaved people who, at considerable risk, escaped for what they hoped would be a better life in Mexico ... Baumgartner’s fast-paced yet detailed exploration is consistently illuminating and offers a new way to understand the past. It is a must-read for anyone seeking a fuller awareness of our history.
Baumgartner brings to life the stories of slaves who escaped to Mexico and how they made it to freedom ... Well-written and well-researched, this work is recommended for those interested in causes of the Civil War, Mexican-American history, and human rights.