John Ernest offers a comprehensive survey of the broad-ranging and influential African American organizations and networks formed in the North in the late eighteenth century through the end of the Civil War. He examines fraternal organizations, churches, conventions, mutual aid benefit and literary societies, educational organizations, newspapers, and magazines. Ernest argues these organizations demonstrate how African Americans self-definition was not solely determined by slavery as they tried to create organizations in the hope of creating a community.
John Ernest is Eberly Family Distinguished Professor of American Literature at West Virginia University. In addition to several editions of nineteenth-century African American texts, he has published three books, Resistance and Reformation in Nineteenth-Century African-American Literature: Brown, Wilson, Jacobs, Delany, Douglass, and Harper, Liberation Historiography: African American Writers and the Challenge of History, 1794-1861, and Chaotic Justice: Rethinking African American Literary History.
Chapter 1: Cities on the Hill: Organizing Communities Chapter 2: Mutual Interest, Mutual Benefit, Mutual Relief Chapter 3: "Plain and Simple Gospel" Chapter 4: "The United Wisdom of the World" Chapter 5: "The Collected Wisdom of Our People" Chapter 6: "Chains of Ignorance" Chapter 7: "Our Warfare Lies in the Field of Thought"