When considering African-Americans, historical narratives of western expansion over the past few decades often follow the patterns and politics of the slave trade. The accompanying story of abolitionist rhetoric is likewise usually circumscribed to urban areas. Anne-Lisa Cox, whose exhibition on the power of place is displayed at the National Museum of African American History and Culture, seeks to, in her book The Bone and Sinew of the Land, unify the threads of expansion and abolition through a study of black citizenship in the Northwest Territories in the initial decades of the nineteenth century. Drawing from census records and a multitude of secondary sources, Cox recreates the likely lifestyles of black pioneers west of the Ohio River, arguing that this migration of African-Americans of various circumstances was motivated by a desire for the full citizenship privileges afforded by property ownership.
Fritz, Timothy D.
"The Bone and Sinew of the Land: America’s Forgotten Black Pioneers and the Struggle for Equality,"
Civil War Book Review: Vol. 20
Available at: https://digitalcommons.lsu.edu/cwbr/vol20/iss4/17