Date on Master's Thesis/Doctoral Dissertation


Document Type

Master's Thesis

Degree Name




Degree Program

History, MA

Committee Chair

Mackey, Thomas C.

Committee Co-Chair (if applicable)

Clayton, Dewey

Committee Member

Clayton, Dewey

Committee Member

Harrison, Benjamin


African Americans--Legal status, laws, etc.--Indiana--History--19th century; African Americans--Indiana--History--19th century; Indiana--Race relations--History--19th century


Residents of Indiana debated the status of Blacks from the time the area was part of the Northwest Territory until the Civil War. An anti-slavery faction gained control of the Indiana territorial legislature and assured Black’s rights through early statehood; however, from the mid-1820s until 1851 anti-black leaders passed repressive legislation. Officials in the southeastern Indiana counties and cities ignored the repressive laws unless events forced them to act. In 1820 one in four Blacks in Indiana lived in the southeastern counties of Jefferson, Clark, and Floyd. By 1850, those county’s seats - Madison, Jeffersonville, and New Albany, respectively - were the largest urban areas in Indiana. Businesses of those counties and cities relied on trade with the slave state of Kentucky, but also relied on the industry of their Black residents. For these two reasons, those counties and cities developed distinctively from the rest of the state.

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