OSU Press publishes books that celebrate and explore aspects of African American history in the Pacific Northwest. (For more on OSU Press publications that honor the significant contributions African American women have made to Oregon, click here.) In particular, OSU Press has established a legacy of publications that aim to acknowledge and recount the historical realities of both African American experiences and the struggle for civil rights in Oregon.
In Oregon’s Promise, An Interpretive History, published by OSU Press in 2003, author David Peterson del Mar endeavors not only to provide readers with a general history of Oregon, but to go beyond and beneath pioneering narratives to examine Oregon’s often overlooked margins—like Oregon’s earliest African American inhabitants—who struggled to be included in Oregon’s promise.
Peterson del Mar brings us the words of a man who came to Oregon in 1844, who remarked: “I’m going to Oregon, where there’ll be no slaves, and we’ll all start even.” Ten years after the publication of Oregon’s Promise, OSU Press published Breaking Chains: Slavery on Trial in the Oregon Territory by R. Gregory Nokes. Breaking Chains elucidates the story of slavery in Oregon and sheds light on the fact that many of the state’s earliest constituents—especially its African Americans—never got their chance to do exactly that—start even.
It’s hard to say what in the book’s premise best captures the complexity of the attitudes surrounding slavery in Oregon at the time. There’s the fact that a slaveholder who settled in Oregon kept his slaves and his slaves’ children, whom he promised to free, in bondage for almost ten years; that one of those slaves, when finally freed, took his former master to court and won; or that Oregon was admitted to the union as a free state—but with a voter-approved ban on African Americans written into its constitution: the only free state ever admitted to the union with such a ban. You can read an excerpt from the book here.
Also published in 2013, Lincoln and Oregon Country Politics in the Civil War Era by Richard Etulain reinforces the manner in which the political landscapes of early Oregon made the state a far cry from a ‘far corner’ and, especially when it came to Abraham Lincoln—whose close ties to the area informed his military policies, his views on civil and legal rights, and his stance on North-South ideological conflicts—Oregon’s influence was strong.
Thanks in part to publications like Breaking Chains and Lincoln and Oregon Country Politics in OSU Press’ recent seasons, these crucial narratives are now closer to Oregon’s cultural, literary, and scholastic spotlights than ever before. To honor this work, and to celebrate R. Gregory Nokes’ nomination for the Oregon Book Award, OSU Press is pleased to announce its 2014 inaugural Book Giveaway. This week, you can enter to win a free copy of Breaking Chains—and read it just in time for the Oregon Book Awards Ceremony on March 17th.
There are three ways to enter. You can either:
- leave a comment below with your name and e-mail address (comments are private)
- tweet @osupress and say that you’d like to be entered to win a copy
- e-mail the Press at firstname.lastname@example.org
You can vote for OSU Press and Breaking Chains for the 2013 Readers’ Choice Award here.
You can learn more about nominee R. Gregory Nokes by visiting his website here.
Other books of interest are available for your perusal; click on their covers to learn more.
Books can be ordered online, or by calling 1-800-621-2736.
Lincoln and Oregon Country Politics in the Civil War Era
“Once again, historian Richard Etulain has provided a scholarly, lively, and definitive look at Lincoln and the Pacific Northwest. Lincoln himself thought the ‘Far Corner’...