October 9, 2012

Birth of Shadd: vice is discountenanced

She was born on October 9, 1823 in Wilmington, Delaware and educated for a time in West Chester, Pennsylvania, but Mary Ann Shadd (later Mrs. Cary) eventually moved to Canada after the Fugitive Slave Law was passed in 1850. She sought full racial integration, allowing all races to co-mingle without repercussion or social disdain. Her earliest writings on the topic was Hints to the Colored People of the North, published in 1849. In it, she argued that black people had to fight for their own rights, not wait for white leaders to act on their behalf (an ideal which her father also advocated as he assisted fugitive slaves along the Underground Railroad).

Shadd soon found that Canadians, though they had banned slavery by 1834, still segregated based on race. Other African-Canadians promoted the creation of a black identity that would allow them to prosper but Shadd became controversial for insisting on full integration with whites. She advocated her ideas through teaching, lecturing, and the establishment of a press and newspaper, The Provincial Freeman. She is considered the first black female publisher in North America. When the Civil War broke out, Shadd returned to the United States and encouraged black men to enlist.

Another of her books, A Plea for Emigration in 1852, helps potential runaway slaves and free blacks who are considering the move to Canada. In the book, she offers information on local climate, agriculture, and cost of living. Though she repeats throughout that she is not necessarily advocating the move, but merely giving enough background to allow an informed decision, she also writes:

The conclusion arrived at in respect to Canada, by an impartial person, is, that no settled country in America offers stronger inducements to colored people. The climate is healthy, and they enjoy as good health as other settlers, or as the natives; the soil is of the first quality; the laws of the country give to them, at first, the same protection and privileges as to other persons not born subjects; and after compliance with Acts of Parliament affecting them, as taking oath, and they may enjoy full "privileges of British birth in the Province." The general tone of society is healthy; vice is discountenanced, and infractions of the law promptly punished; and, added to this, there is an increasing anti-slavery sentiment, and a progressive system of religion.

*Recommended reading: Mary Ann Shadd Car: The Black Press and Protest in the Nineteenth Century (1999) by Jane Rhodes.

No comments:

Post a Comment