Freedom's Port

The African American Community of Baltimore, 1790-1860
Author: Christopher Phillips
Examining a mostly free urban Black population in the Upper South
Paper – $27
Publication Date
Paperback: 01/01/1997
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About the Book

In 1860, the Black population of Baltimore--nearly 27,000 strong and more than ninety percent free--was the largest in the nation. Christopher Phillips chronicles the growth and development of this community. As Phillips shows, the community began as a transient aggregate of individuals, many of them fresh from enslavement, and grew into a strong community comparatively free of the class and intraracial divisions that roiled other cities. Almost from the start, Baltimore's Black citizens forged their own freedom and actively defended it despite living in a slave state under white leadership that resented the liberties they had achieved.

About the Author

Christopher Phillips is the John and Dorothy Hermanies Professor of American History and the University Distinguished Professor in the Arts, Humanities, and Social Sciences at the University of Cincinnati. His books include The Rivers Ran Backward: The Civil War and the Remaking of the American Middle Border.


"A deeply researched, comprehensive account of Baltimore's African American community, the community that helped shape the young Frederick Douglass and that became the nation's largest by the eve of the Civil War. An illuminating contribution to historical knowledge of the urban context of slavery and freedom."--Michael P. Johnson, coeditor of No Chariot Let Down: Charleston's Free People of Color on the Eve of the Civil War


Co-winner of the Maryland Historical Society Book Award, 1997.