The African American
Search for Freedom in 1850's St. Louis
In this activity you
will simulate the experience of an African American slave who has recently
been moved to St. Louis during the year 1850. St. Louis is a city in a slave
state. Your master has hired you out to a local businessman so you have some
freedom to move through the city. Your goal is to design a strategy whereby
you can gain your freedom.
As you wander through
the city you need to accomplish the following tasks. Be sure to make extensive
notes about what you learn.
- Determine the composition
of the African American community in St. Louis (look at demographic information
on the decade's main page). How might the nature of St. Louis' African
American community help or hinder your efforts? Why?
- Find at least one institution
or organization you can join to help you in your search for freedom. How
can this institution help you?
- Find at least three people
who can help you in your quest for freedom. Identify who they are, how
you might meet them, and explain how they could help you.
- Find out if the legal system
in St. Louis might be able to help you. Explain the opportunities and/or
obstacles presented by St. Louis' legal
- Write at least two plans
for obtaining your freedom. Your plans should have a realistic chance
for success. Your plans should include the following elements:
- Your basic idea, what
will you and how will you do it. Be as specific as possible, including
the people and places that are most important in you achieving your
- Examples of other African
Americans who have used a similar strategy to gain their freedom.
- An assessment of the risk
involved. What is your chance at success? What will happen to you
if you fail?
- An estimate of how long
it will take you to achieve your freedom if you pursue this strategy.
- Once you have written two
plans, chose the best plan as "Plan A" and the second plan as
"Plan B." You will present your "Plan A" in class.