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California's Struggle with Slavery



Black Californian organized to fight for Archy Lee's liberty, and consequentially their own.

Archy Lee
, a fugitive slave who had run away from his master in Mississippi, aroused the attention of Californians who held a variety of viewpoints on the Fugitive Slave Law.  Black Americans throughout the state rallied in support of Lee who, after three flip-flops in the state legal system during the year , won his freedom in 1858.  Fearing that a federal trial would return him to bondage in the same manner as had happened to Dred Scott during the previous year, Lee fled to Canada and never returned to the United States.  This newspaper advertisement ran through several Northern California newspapers, in a successful bid to raise funds for Lee's defense.



Depiction of the Duel between David Broderick and David Terry

"The last notable duel in American history" took place near Lake Merced, outside of San Francisco when California Supreme Court Justice David Terry shot and killed his long-time friend and U.S. Senator David Broderick on September 13, 1859 .  Terry, a pro-slavery Democrat, had recently lost his bid for re-election, and subsequently blamed Broderick's anit-slavery coalition for his loss, thus initiating the rift between the two former allies.  Broderick would become a martyr for the anti-slavery cause, and his deathwould recieve national attention.  Terry, whom many accused of cheating by ensuring Borderick's gun had an overly-sensitive trigger, would himself become a fugitive of the law before the case against him (a murder charge) was ultimately dismissed.   



"The White Slave"  Image Courtesy of The California State Library.
"The White Slave":  This stereo card, viewable with a stereoscope to produce a 3-D image, was printed in San Francisco in 1863.  It illustrates the fear expressed often held by Southerners of the day, that if blacks were to gain their freedom, it would make whites into the second-class race.  Although California was a free state and fought on the side of the Union, this card shows us that many Californians held this view as well.



Col. Allen Allensworth: soldier, minister, and civil rights pioneer

Allen Allensworth escaped slavery in Kentucky to join the Union Army during the Civil War.  At the time of his retirement from the Army in 1906, Allensworth held the rank of Lieutenant Colonel, and was the highest-ranking black officer of this time.  Along with several other important black leaders, Allensworth directed the esatblishment of an all-black colony in Tulare County in Central California in 1908, in an attempt to create economic independence for themselves and escape the discrmination in law and culture that still persisted in this era.  The result was the town of Allensworth, which at its peak numbered over 300 black settlers.  The untimely death of Allensworth in 1914, regional competition for water, and the resulting drop in water table led to the town's demise during the 1920'3 and 1930's.