Wisc. farmland attracted free blacks unwelcome in NC

“Although racial prejudice existed in the upper Midwest before the Civil War, it was compensated for to a degree by the availability of new land or recently partitioned and inexpensive land. Interestingly, many of western Wisconsin’s earliest black settlers came as extended free family units that had been encouraged to leave North Carolina, and these groups came with moderate capital and purchased farmland near the towns of Pleasant Hill and Hillsboro. These were free-born farmers, and they came with some education, agriculture-based objectives and close-knit family values….

“Rosser Howard Taylor [in “The Free Negro in North Carolina,” 1920] wrote that many free blacks had never been slaves and that some had free ancestors who had fought in the Revolutionary War. The terms ‘Waldens’ and ‘old issue’ were applied to this group. Many owned farms that could be converted into cash. In North Carolina a clear distinction was drawn between old issue and manumitted blacks. Waldron was a common surname among black settlers in Hillsboro, Wisconsin….”

— From “For Labor, Race, and Liberty: George Edwin Taylor, His Historic Run for the White House, and the Making of Independent Black Politics by Bruce L. Mouser (2011)

 

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