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South to Freedom: Runaway Slaves to Mexico and the Road to the Civil War
In South to Freedom, historian Alice L. Baumgartner tells the story of why Mexico abolished slavery and how its increasingly radical antislavery policies fueled the sectional crisis in the United States. Southerners hoped that annexing Texas and invading Mexico in the 1840s would stop runaways and secure slavery's future. Instead, the seizure of Alta California and Nuevo México upset the delicate political balance between free and slave states. This is a revelatory and essential new perspective on antebellum America and the causes of the Civil War.

Mar 31, 2021 07:00 PM in Eastern Time (US and Canada)

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Maria E. Hammack
M.A. Atlantic World History @University of Texas at Austin
Maria Esther Hammack is a doctoral candidate in the department of History at the University of Texas at Austin. She received her B.A. in History and an M.A. in Atlantic World History from East Carolina University. She is a historian learning about Black Women freedom fighters, the Underground Railroad & the African Diaspora in North America. Her work recovers and documents little known histories of Black women who engineered self liberation and journeys to escape US enslavement and reach Mexican freedom destinations. Trained as a social historian, Maria's work aims to present and acknowledge freedom seekers turned border crossers, their lived-experiences, contributions, how they shaped freedom, abolition and community across the spaces they traversed and settled. Maria is a transnational scholar who seeks to advance initiatives that link scholarly research, pedagogy, digital and public history.
Alice Lucille Baumgartner
Postdoctoral Fellow, Society of Fellows (2019-21) Assistant Professor, Department of History @University of Southern California
Alice Baumgartner received her Ph.D. from Yale University in 2018. Her book project, Slavery's Other Border: Mexico and the Road to the U.S. Civil War, 1800-1867, uses the story of American slaves who escaped to Mexico during the nineteenth century as a lens for understanding Mexico’s rise as an antislavery republic and its overlooked significance to the United States. Baumgartner received a B.A. in History from Yale University and an M.Phil in Latin American Studies from the University of Oxford where she was a Rhodes Scholar. Her March 2015 article in the Journal of American History, “‘The Line of Positive Safety’: Borders and Boundaries in the Lower Rio Grande Valley, 1848-1880,” won the Louis Pelzer Award from the Organization of American Historians and the Bolton-Cutter Prize from the Western History Association.
Alex La Rotta
Postdoctoral Research Scholar in The Department of History @Columbia University
Alex La Rotta is a Postdoctoral Research Scholar in the Department of History where he teaches U.S. Latinx History and Black/Brown History of Rock & Roll. An avid record collector and DJ, his scholarship focuses on race and popular music in the U.S.-Mexico borderlands. Professor La Rotta is particularly interested in how music can provide a historical lens into the mechanisms of racialization and reveal tensions and collaborations within communities of color. His manuscript in preparation investigates sonic affinities and cultural kinships across African-American and Mexican-American communities in twentieth-century San Antonio, Texas. With the support from the Inter-University Program for Latino Research’s Andrew Mellon Fellowship, he received his Ph.D. in History from the University of Houston in Summer 2019.