From a Bancroft Prize winner, a harrowing portrait of Black workers and white hypocrisy in nineteenth-century Boston
Impassioned antislavery rhetoric made antebellum Boston famous as the nation’s hub of radical abolitionism. In fact, however, the city was far from a beacon of equality.
In No Right to an Honest Living, historian Jacqueline Jones reveals how Boston was the United States writ small: a place where the soaring rhetoric of egalitarianism was easy, but justice in the workplace was elusive. Before, during, and after the Civil War, white abolitionists and Republicans refused to secure equal employment opportunity for Black Bostonians, condemning most of them to poverty. Still, Jones finds, some Black entrepreneurs ingeniously created their own jobs and forged their own career paths.
Highlighting the everyday struggles of ordinary Black workers, this book shows how injustice in the workplace prevented Boston—and the United States—from securing true equality for all.