Sailor and Citizen: Being Black and Free on Board US Ships before the Civil War

By Martha S. Jones

Freedmen of colour served aboard US ships as a means to gain rights that they did not enjoy in other situations. This was notably the case for free blacks from Baltimore. After describing the situation of the community of free black men and women in that city, this paper will detail the various legal experiences that future black leader George Hackett went through during his trip, as steward of the USS Constitution, from Baltimore to Valparaiso between 1839 and 1841.

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