From the earliest times, black men and women helped shape the frontier of this country. Yet, their participation in American history has often been neglected. William Loren Katz tells the story of thirty-five black people whose activities and accomplishments are a testimony to their unique contribution.
Here are explorers, traders, businessmen, and public-spirited citizens who, along with whites, became our first heroes. Estevanico and York opened up the wilderness; Lucy Terry Prince crusaded for her rights in colonial New England; Bill Pickett was one of the greatest cowboys of the day; and in the Far West George Washington Bush, Clara Brown, and Edwin P. McCabe were among the first to establish communities for blacks. Many migrated to the Midwest and then Northwest to escape slavery. They prospected for gold or silver, drove cattle up the Chisholm Trail, and served in United States infantry and cavalry regiments. And though some, like Deadwood Dick or Cherokee Bill, had notorious reputations, most were average, hardworking folk who formed an important part of the frontier fabric.
The experiences of these men and women provide new insight into our national heritage, and illuminate the kind of people who made this land. The text is illustrated with photographs from the author’s private collection.
“This is yet another fine work by William Loren Katz; I think that it is commendable for him to give me and my children a sense of pride in knowing that our people made significant contributions to developing the western United States.”