Emergence

Cincinnati 1841

Cincinnati 1841

Louisville and Cincinnati’s black population increased with their manufacturing development.  Louisville’s slave population doubled between 1830 and 1850 and by 1860, ten thousand slaves lived in the area.  The free black population increased over 500 percent in the same time period.[1]  In 1820 there were two hundred African-Americans living in Ohio and in just nine years that number increased to 2,258.[2]  By 1830 half of Ohio’s blacks living in Cincinnati; most former slaves from Kentucky and Virginia.[3]  Thirteen percent of black men in Cincinnati and 8 percent of black men in Louisville held skilled trade jobs as carpenters, masons, and plasterers.  A great deal more possessed skills in trade jobs, but whites refused to work alongside them.  A majority of blacks worked in the service and transportation industries.  Several African Americans acquired a tremendous amount of wealth despite obstacles.  In 1850 property owned by blacks exceeded $500,000.[4]

 

The first AME church in Indianapolis, the Bethel African Methodist Episcopal Church

Bethel A.M.E. Church, Indianapolis est. 1836

Despite rampant violence in the Ohio Valley borderland, black communities emerged along the Ohio River.  Racial violence strengthened black communities.  African Americans forged alliances and established churches, schools, and businesses.  Black elite entrepreneurs emerged as Civil Rights leaders.  Affluent African Americans assisted fugitive slaves.  Berlin Crossroads, Chillicothe and Ripley in Ohio and New Albany and Madison in Indiana developed into centers of resistance.  Blacks offered shelter, clothes, money, and transportation to fugitives crossing through points north.  

[1] Hudson, Blaine. Fugitive Slaves and The Underground Railroad in the Kentucky Borderland. (Jefferson, McFarland & Co.2002), 14.  1860 slave statistics Bingham 15.

[2] Hudson, Blaine. Fugitive Slaves and The Underground Railroad in the Kentucky Borderland. (Jefferson, McFarland & Co.2002). 120.

[3] Hudson, Blaine. Fugitive Slaves and The Underground Railroad in the Kentucky Borderland. (Jefferson, McFarland & Co.2002). 29.

[4] (Trotter 1998) 38