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Author ORCID Identifier



Open Access Dissertation

Document Type


Degree Name

Doctor of Philosophy (PhD)

Degree Program

Afro-American Studies

Year Degree Awarded


Month Degree Awarded


First Advisor

Manisha Sinha

Second Advisor

James Smethurst

Third Advisor

Britt Rusert

Fourth Advisor

Elizabeth Stordeur Pryor

Subject Categories

Other History | United States History


“A Papered Freedom” is a systematic study of how enslaved and self-emancipated African Americans engaged with compensated manumission to become legally free. To do this, I address fundamental issues related to compensated manumission within the United States from the founding era to the fugitive slave crisis of the 1850s. The project works to give voice to the concerns and problems that African Americans faced in their attempts to buy freedom by analyzing how they interacted with different kinds of networks, both social and economic, in the interest of liberation. By accruing different kinds of capital within these networks, African Americans who paid for freedom worked to reject the very economic and social thought that worked to keep them enslaved. The project also looks at how African Americans connected with the abolition movement worked to theorize compensated manumission and legal freedom within the broader movement.