Race relations of Cincinnati
||It has been suggested that this article be merged into History of Cincinnati. (Discuss) Proposed since May 2012.|
Cincinnati, Ohio was a border town between slave states and free states in the Union during the Civil War. There have been many incidents of race-based violence before and after the Civil War with the most notable and most recent one being the 2001 Cincinnati Riots.
Situated across the Ohio River from the border state of Kentucky, which allowed slavery, Ohio was a major focal point for commerce and transportation with the South. Although slavery was not permitted before the Civil War, some in the city were not accepting of blacks. Many residents had personal and business ties to slaveholders across the river. Other whites competed for jobs with the free blacks who had migrated there from Virginia and other southern states to make new starts in the Northwest. Tensions broke out in riots and racial purges. Confrontations occurred between abolitionists and slaveholders over runaway slaves and free blacks kidnapped into bondage.
The Cincinnati Riots of 1829 broke out in July and August 1829 as whites attacked blacks in the city. Many of the latter had come from the South to establish a community with more freedom. Some 1200 blacks left the city as a result of rioting and resettled in Canada. Blacks in other areas tried to raise money to help people who wanted to relocate to Canada. The riot was a topic of discussion in 1830 among representatives of seven states at the first Negro Convention, led by Bishop Richard Allen and held in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania.
As the anti-slavery movement grew, there were more riots in 1836, when whites attacked a press run by James Birney, who had started publishing the anti-slavery weekly The Philanthropist. The mob grew to 700 and also attacked black neighborhoods and people. Another riot occurred in 1841.
Cincinnati was an important stop for the Underground Railroad in pre-Civil War times. It bordered a slave state, Kentucky, and is often mentioned as a destination for many people escaping the bonds of slavery. There are many harrowing stories involving abolitionists, runaways, slave traders and free men.
Allen Temple African Methodist Episcopal Church was founded in 1824 as the first Black church in Ohio. It was an important stop on the Underground Railroad for many years. It seeded many other congregations in the city, across the state, and throughout the Midwest.
Lane Theological Seminary was established in the Walnut Hills section of Cincinnati in 1829 to educate Presbyterian ministers. Prominent New England pastor Lyman Beecher moved his family (Harriet and son Henry) from Boston to Cincinnati to become the first President of the Seminary in 1832.
Lane Seminary is known primarily for the "debates" held there in 1834 that influenced the nation's thinking about slavery. Several of those involved went on to play an important role in the abolitionist movement and the buildup to the American Civil War.  Abolitionist author Harriet Beecher Stowe wrote Uncle Tom's Cabin, first published on March 20, 1852. The book was the best-selling novel of the 19th century (and the second best-selling book of the century after the Bible) and is credited with helping to fuel the abolitionist cause in the United States prior to the American Civil War. In the first year after it was published, 300,000 copies of the book were sold. In his 1985 book Uncle Tom's Cabin and American Culture, Thomas Gossett observed that "in 1872 a biographer of Horace Greeley would argue that the chief force in developing support for the Republican Party in the 1850s had been Uncle Tom's Cabin." The Harriet Beecher Stowe House in Cincinnati is located at 2950 Gilbert Avenue, and it is open to the public.
The National Underground Railroad Freedom Center, located in downtown Cincinnati on the banks of the Ohio River, largely focuses on the history of slavery in the U.S., but has an underlying mission of promoting freedom in a contemporary fashion for the world. Its grand opening ceremony in 2002 was a gala event involving many national stars, musical acts, fireworks, and a visit from the current First Lady of the United States. It is physically located between Great American Ballpark and Paul Brown Stadium, which were both built and opened shortly before the Freedom Center was opened.
- Carter G. Woodson, Charles Harris Wesley, The Negro in Our History, Associated Publishers, 1922, p. 140 (digitized from original at University of Michigan Library, accessed 13 Jan 2009
- "The Pro-Slavery Riot in Cincinnati", Abolitionism 1830-1850, Uncle Tom's Cabin and American Culture, University of Virginia, 1998-2007, accessed 14 Jan 2009
- Introduction to Uncle Tom's Cabin Study Guide.