Historian's Craft

The blog of Historian's Craft 3801 at Huron Unviersity College in London, Ontario, Canada

Posts tagged abolition

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The Wilberforce Colony

The Wilberforce settle is a free black community that is notable to the time period with our class is studying in regards to the letters of Hiram Wilson and his abolition work in Canada and the United States. Named after the famous British abolitionist, William Wilberforce,  the Wilberforce settlement was founded in 1829-1830 by free blacks from Cincinnati, but due to poor management the settlement disbanded in six years later. Today,north of London, in Lucan, Ontario all that marks where the former Wilberforce colony stood is a plaque (pictured below). 

Free black residents of Cincinnati were forced to leave the city when a $500 fee paid to the city was mandatory. The fee was part of the city’s 1807 Black Laws.Most free blacks could not afford this fee so they decided to seek refuge in Canada. The American Colonization Society played an active role in the formation of the Wilberforce settlement and helped fund the black settlers journey to freedom.  Israel Lewis and Thomas Crissup were elected by Cincinnati black to help find land in Canada that would be suitable for a colony. They decided on an area north of London, Ontario, Biddulph County, on the Ausable River. They struck an agreement to purchase the land from the Canada company, at the cost of $1.50 an acre. In 1831, the settlement was named Wilberforce in honour of the British abolitionist William Wilberforce.

In 1829, the Cincinnati Riots sparked a mass exodus of black citizens from Cinncinati. Many made there way to the Wilberforce colony. The deal that had been struck between the Thomas, Crissup and the Canada company required $6000 for the land, which the settlers could not afford. They received financial assistance from Quakers James Brown and Stephen Duncan purchased 600 acres for Wilberforce. Some of the first homes and structures were constructed by 1832. The first year of the colony, there were only a handful of families, but within a few years estimates put the number of families in the colony from anywhere between 150-200 families settled here. The colony began to flourish and one of the first institutions established was a school. The original contingent of free blacks to Wilberforce were of a wealthier, more educated class who valued education and therefore wanted to establish a school for their children. Around 20-30 children attended this school.

Eventually conflicts between the the original group of settlers from Cincinnati and other black settlers divided the colony and led to its diaspora. Irish settlers began moving into the area and it became the town of Lucan. By the 20th century the only family from the Wilberforce colony with descendants still living in the area was Peter Butler. Many gravestones of the Butler family remain in a small family cemetery plot today in Lucan. 

For further reading:
[1] Leverton, John, Wilberforce Colony , from Lucan 125 Souvenir Booklet 1871-1996.
[2] http://www.ontarioplaques.com/Plaques_MNO/Plaque_Middlesex27.html
[3] Black Codes. http://www.britannica.com/EBchecked/topic/67722/black-code
[5] Peter Butler. http://www.londonheritage.ca/Documents/PDFs/LMHS-subsite/Peter%20Butler.pdf

Filed under Lucan Ontario American Colonization Society William Wilberforce wilberforce colony abolition slavery

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Lane Rebels

The “Lane Rebels” were a group of about 50 students who revolted against the civil magistrate of Cincinnati, Ohio which prohibited antislavery agitation that was growing at Lane Theological Seminary. Oberlin College seized upon this opportunity and invited the rebels to join them. The result of this was both an agreement and the founding of Oberlin Theological Seminary with the famous Charles Finney as the Professor of theology. Oberlin College became an interracial which was committed to the cause of emancipation as well as education of African Americans. Unlike Cincinnati the magistrate of Oberlin were not permitted to infringe upon either the enrollment of students or their freedom of speech.  

While the slavery debates at Lane Theological Seminary were silenced their legacy lived on in Oberlin, Ohio, where the abolitionist cause would only grow. One of the leaders of the rebels Theodore D. Weld would be admitted to Oberlin Seminary. Calvin Ellis Stowe, the husband of Uncle Tom’s Cabin author Harriet Beecher Stowe was a professor at the theological seminary at this time. It was by this point that Oberlin became a vital and active point on the Underground Railroad as many slaves made their way to freedom. 

One very important person who is connected with both Oberlin and the Lane Rebels is the minister Hirim Wilson who left with the rebels for Oberlin.  After receiving his degree in 1836 the professor Charles Finney would give him some money to travel to Upper Canada and observe the slaves who travelled there. Hirim Wilson’s letters are central to the Historian’s Craft class at Huron and the research for Promised Land Project.

Filed under oberlin lane rebels abolition free slaves blackhistorymonth

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Crafting History: An Introduction

The purpose of this blog will be to chronicle the research process of the students of History 3801 as we explore the abolitionist movement centred in Southwestern Ontario and the Northern United States, focusing on the letters of abolitonist Hiram Wilson and the establishment of the Wilberforce settlement.

This project is association with the Promised Land Project (PLP), and aims to be congruent with the overall research aims of the PLP.

Last year’s class also studied the letters of Hiram Wilson and their blog can be found here.

What we hope to accomplish through this blog:

-a central place to display the work of various groups within the Historian’s Craft Class and how they present their research through various multimedia and creative presentations

-to examine the research of the students and the unseen historiographical process

-to engage the public with our research via the platform of Tumblr through tagging posts, reblogging posts that are relevant to our study

The culmination of the blog will be fufilled in the formal presentation at Huron University College (date TBA).

For contact proposes, we can be contacted at his3801huron@gmail.com.

Thank you for joining us on our journey!

Filed under PLP black history abolition slavery history historiography