The Negro in Michigan 1850-1865
Kent, Wallace, Jr.
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When the Negro first came to M1ch1gan, it was as a slave. He had little future and less hope. Things soon changed for the better, though, because by the early part of the 19th century, slavery had been almost completely eradicated in Michigan, and the state soon became the goal of escaped slaves seeking a new life of freedom. Michigan before the Civil War was by no means a paradise for Negroes. They were severely discriminated against, not being granted equal employment opportunity or the right to vote. They were afforded the opportunity to improve themselves through education, however, and were able to own property and conduct their own business affairs. These rights, though limited in scope, were never-the-less, a great improvement over conditions in the slave-holding South and even conditions existing in many Northern states. The problem of the Negro is still with us today. One hundred years after the end of the Civi1 War, the Negro is still treated throughout the American nation as a second-class citizen, though many improvements have been made. It is particularly important that we place the problems the Negro has encountered in striving for acceptance in historical perspective, so that we can properly evaluate the ga1ns which have been made, and the obstacles which remain to be overcome. Such is the aim of this paper.