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Front Line of Freedom: African Americans and the Forging of the Underground Railroad in the Ohio Valley (Ohio River Valley Series) Hardcover – March 12, 2004

ISBN-13: 978-0813122984 ISBN-10: 0813122988

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Front Line of Freedom: African Americans and the Forging of the Underground Railroad in the Ohio Valley (Ohio River Valley Series) + Frontiers Of Freedom: Cincinnatis Black Community 1802-1868 (Law Society & Politics in the Midwest)
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Product Details

  • Series: Ohio River Valley Series
  • Hardcover: 192 pages
  • Publisher: The University Press of Kentucky (March 12, 2004)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0813122988
  • ISBN-13: 978-0813122984
  • Product Dimensions: 6 x 0.6 x 9 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 14.2 ounces (View shipping rates and policies)
  • Average Customer Review: 5.0 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (3 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #998,692 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

Editorial Reviews

From Booklist

An entry in the Ohio River Valley series, this innovative examination of the Underground Railroad explores the often neglected and overlooked roles African Americans played in this significant chapter in American history. Though many conventional histories give the impression that white abolitionists were the risk-taking conductors while escaped slaves were merely passive passengers on the Underground Railroad, the truth is that this was one of the first truly interracial enterprises, conceived and executed by daring and committed members of both races. Seeking to set the historical record straight by demonstrating that "African Americans were central to the development and operation of the Underground Railroad," Griffler introduces a variety of African American voices and viewpoints gleaned from letters, reminiscences, and oral histories. By cross-checking these primary sources against contemporary scholarship, he is able to present a balanced overview of one of the first collaborative efforts between the races in America. An important contribution to the history of the Ohio River Valley and the sociology of the African American experience. Margaret Flanagan
Copyright © American Library Association. All rights reserved

Review

"Finalist for the Governor's Award given by the Kentucky Historical Society." --



"I easily rank this as my #1 book of the year, for general readers and academics alike." -- AfroAmericanHeritage.com



"Griffler has done a fine job rescuing lost stories. His objective to create a more racially balanced history of the Underground Railroad is timely and eminently sensible." -- American Historical Review



"This innovative examination of the Underground Railroad explores the often neglected and overlooked roles African Americans played.... Griffler introduces a variety of African American voices and viewpoints. An important contribution." -- Booklist



"Griffler has provided the reader with names of largely unheralded white and black heroes and heroines normally neglected in any studies of this subject." -- Bowling Green (KY) Daily News



"Griffler has made an important scholarly contribution to the historiography of the Underground Railroad by focusing on the 'front line' of this emancipation network-the African Americans who led so many bonds people across the Ohio River.... Highly recommended." -- Choice



"Both refreshing and compelling, highlighting the major role that African-Americans in Ohio, individually and communally, played in the ferrying of freedom seekers from Kentucky, Virginia, and other slave states to freedom in the North." -- Civil War Book Review



" Frontline of Freedom is a valuable contribution to the growing field of Underground Railroad studies, and one hopes the field will continue in this vein. It is not a simplistic triumphal history of black involvements and interracial cooperation. It is a stirring reminder of the high price of freedom, and of what ordinary men and women, black and white, were willing to risk and endure to pay that price." -- Civil War History



"Bold, imaginative, and important, Griffler's short masterpiece will join the front line of classics on the antislavery movement." -- H-Net Reviews



"Griffler's important, well-written account... is part of welcome recent efforts to focus on the role of African Americans in the UGRR." -- Indiana Magazine of History



"Griffler's book introduces so many vibrant lives and events, transformations and telling details, that by book's end the reader is eager for more, rather than less-again, a welcome change, and an accomplishment of which the author can be proud." -- Journal of American History



"An important work that makes explicit the role African Americans performed in liberating themselves and fellow bondsmen during the antebellum era." -- Journal of Illinois History



"Griffler makes his case well, and in doing so not only offers a necessary corrective to earlier Underground Railroad history but also reminds us that black activity of this sort could not have occurred in a vacuum, the isolated acts of a heroic few." -- Journal of Southern History



"Highly informative and engaging.... A must read for all scholars of antebellum America who surely will come away from it with a fresh new perspective on this important aspect of United States history." -- Journal of the Illinois State Historical Society



"A well-researched book that explores closely the dynamics of the operation; exactly who helped whom, the logistics involved, the problems encountered, and black settlements in the North." -- Kentucky Monthly



"Well researched and well written. An excellent account of the role of African Americans in the aid given fugitive slaves, as well as the major contribution made by the fugitives themselves in their own liberation." -- Larry Gara, Professor Emeritus of History, Wilmington College and author of The



"Griffler delves into this little-understood topic to give us a mountain of information." -- Northern Kentucky Heritage



"Introduces readers to a host of Ohio River Valley black abolitionists whose involvement in the Underground Railroad was previously unknown." -- Register of the Kentucky Historical Society



"Redeems a shamefully neglected part of our collective memory. Collecting new and extant oral histories, Dr. Griffler shows that the actual relationship between the races was far richer and more textured than the written record alone would suggest." -- Rita Kohn



"Griffler's volume excels in presenting an original and extremely useful... interpretation of the origins, character, and growth of the Underground Railroad in this vital region." -- The Historian



"Griffler has made a significant contribution to our understanding of the role of African Americans in the early formation of the system as well as identified a number of previously underutilized sources." -- West Virginia History


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7 of 7 people found the following review helpful By AfroAmericanHeritage on November 30, 2004
Format: Hardcover
Even though I know better, like most people, the term "Underground Railroad" conjures the image of white folks rescuing hapless black folks. Griffler believes this is partly because historians have focused too much on the "Railroad" (with its mostly white conductors and stations) and not enough on the "Underground." Without diminishing the interracial aspects, Griffler documents how African American communities created and utilized a vast underground front-line network decades before there was much white involvement. As he states, "Even at its height the Underground Railroad did not entice African Americans to escape; rather, the loosely organized support operation was formed in response to the constant stream of fugitives."

In addition to introducing black freedom fighters like John Parker (a former slave who built a prosperous business in Ripley, Ohio and worked from that base) Griffler crosschecks letters, reminiscences and oral histories against contemporary scholarship to explore the inner workings and attitudes of various participants and societies, providing a fascinating new perspective on things we thought we knew.

In less skilled hands, this book could have been an unwieldy tome, but Griffler packs a wallop in a slim volume. His writing is concise, his narrative smooth, and God bless him, he never belabors a point. I easily rank this as my #1 book of the year, for general readers and academics alike.
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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful By Karen Amelia on March 5, 2013
Format: Paperback
This book brought me to a paradigm shift in my understanding of the abolitionist movement in the then "Northwest" (that is, primarily Ohio). Living in Cincinnati, I've recently begun to read about the Underground Railroad, and of course learning this proud history enlivened my appreciation for my adopted home. Griffler, while acknowledging the contributions of white abolitionists as essential to the overall cause, painted a picture that I find completely believable, and really, necessary: that the enslaved themselves,and free Blacks, took charge, from the start, of the struggle for freedom. It was their own struggle, after all. The message: that the history of the Underground Railroad and abolition needs to be better integrated, and the emphasis shifted from white folks as leading characters to white folks as supporting cast. Their importance was in different "theaters of war": the enslaved and free people of color on the frontlines vs. whites in the rear guard (the more northern regions.) The footnotes make it clear that the author sifted through lots of original source material but he has interpreted those records in a way that makes for very interesting and lively reading. This book should be required reading in all basic American history classes, and is a must for anyone interested in abolition and the Underground Railroad.
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By MissMia09 on February 4, 2013
Format: Paperback Verified Purchase
This book was very interesting. It went into great detail about the underground railroad and the brave people who risked their lives to help runaway slaves escape and how Southerners abused the laws and civil rights of African Americans.
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