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Unexpected PlacesRelocating Nineteenth-Century African American Literature$
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Eric Gardner

Print publication date: 2009

Print ISBN-13: 9781604732832

Published to University Press of Mississippi: March 2014

DOI: 10.14325/mississippi/9781604732832.001.0001

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Gateways and Borders

Gateways and Borders

Black St. Louis in the 1840s and 1850s

(p.22) Chapter 1 Gateways and Borders
Unexpected Places

Eric Gardner

University Press of Mississippi

This chapter considers three texts that expand the sense of the black stories located in and even told from within antebellum St. Louis: John Berry Meachum’s 1846 Address to All the Colored Citizens of the United States, Cyprian Clamorgan’s 1858 The Colored Aristocracy of St. Louis, and the St. Louis freedom suit case file of Polly Wash. The discussion here considers how African Americans negotiated the boundaries that both authorized and limited their voices. The chapter focuses here on how their texts begin to articulate stories of a black St. Louis that is, at times, very different from the city in Lovejoy/Brown abolitionism, even as these stories share Brown’s attention to mobility, location, domestic ideals, and black personhood. Though it is not suggested that these texts represent a literary renaissance in antebellum St. Louis, their presence demonstrates the complexity, the black textual lives, and the black stories possible in even the most surprising of places, Brown’s locus and location of brutality.

Keywords:   black stories, antebellum St. Louis, John Berry Meachum, Cyprian Clamorgan, Polly Wash

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