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By the Book Author Series | Black Politics and Black Power in Ohio, 1837-1860

November 11, 2021 @ 6:00 pm - 7:30 pm

By the Book Author Series | Black Politics and Black Power in Ohio, 1837-1860

Date: Thurs., Nov. 11, 2021

Time: 6:00pm

Program Description

In the 1840s and 50s, a remarkable cadre of Black leaders built electoral and political influence within Ohio’s rapidly shifting partisan terrain. Taking advantage of state Supreme Court decisions recognizing as “Caucasian” any man claiming he was “preponderantly white,” thousands of African American men voted throughout the state by the 1850s.  A fiercely contested 1856 congressional race between Lewis Campbell and Clement Vallandigham was one of many instances where Black voters were seen as crucial, and the Republican Salmon P. Chase was repeatedly derided as a “Negro Governor” whose election depended on their support. Finally, on Election Day 1860, the New York Herald, the country’s leading newspaper, proclaimed that Congress should invalidate Lincoln’s election because of Ohio’s “fourteen thousand negro voters.” Learn more about the power of the Black vote in Ohio in a panel discussion, led by Dr. Van Gosse, Professor of History at Franklin & Marshall College; Dr. Regennia N. Williams, Distinguished Scholar of African American History & Culture at WRHS; & Dr. John Grabowski, Krieger Mueller Chief Historian at WRHS.

Note: A 30-minute Q&A session will follow the presentation.

About the Presenters

Van Gosse

Van Gosse (he/him) is a Professor of History at Franklin & Marshall College in Lancaster, Pennsylvania. He is the author of numerous articles and books on post-1945 politics and social movements, including Where the Boys Are: Cuba, Cold War America, and the Making of a New Left. More recently, he has written on African American politics in the antebellum era, including his 2021 book, The First Reconstruction: Black Politics in America, From the Revolution to the Civil War. He is also co-chair of Historians for Peace and Democracy (www.historiansforpeace.org).

Dr. Regennia N. Williams

Dr. Regennia N. Williams is the Distinguished Scholar of African American History and Culture at the Western Reserve Historical Society and President of the Northeast Ohio Chapter of the Fulbright Association.  An award-winning historian, she is also the founder, president, and director of the Center for the Study of Religion and Spirituality in the History of Africa and the Diaspora (The RASHAD Center, Inc.). This nonprofit corporation creates, supports, and promotes arts and humanities programs in the Washington, DC Metropolitan Area and in the state of Ohio through performances of Black sacred music, producing popular and scholarly publications, and conducting research for the Praying Grounds Oral History Project.  Williams has also conducted oral history research in Newport News, Virginia; Washington, DC; Ile-Ife Nigeria; Macau, China; and Free State, South Africa. Her published works include books, book chapters, and articles in scholarly journals, newspapers, and magazines, and she is the founder and editor of The Journal of Traditions & Beliefs and the Traditions & Beliefs newsletter. Her chapter on “Race, Religion, and Reconciliation: Academic Initiatives, Leadership Development, and Social Change” was published in Leadership for Change: Developing Transformational Student Leaders through Global Learning Spaces (2021).

For more information on Dr. Williams’ publications and oral history research, please click HERE.

Dr. John J. Grabowski

Dr. John J. Grabowski holds a joint position with the Historical Society and Case Western Reserve University and serves as the editor of the online edition of the Encyclopedia of Cleveland History. His areas of expertise include local, national, and global migration and immigration, sports history, Cleveland history, the development of museums and archives, and the study of historical memory and its role in shaping an understanding of the past.


By the Book Author Series

This event is presented as part of the Cleveland History Center’s By the Book Author Series. For more information about the series, including a full list of topics, please click here.


November 11, 2021
6:00 pm - 7:30 pm
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Cleveland History Center
10825 East Blvd
Cleveland, OH 44106 United States