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The Dawn of Detroit: A Chronicle of Slavery and Freedom in the City of the Straits
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2018 Frederick Douglass Book Prize Co-Winner2018 John Hope Franklin Prize Finalist2018 Zora Neale Hurston/Richard Wright Legacy Award (Nonfiction) Winner2018 American Book Award Winner2018 Harriet Tubman Prize Finalist2018 Merle Curti Social History Award Winner2018 James A. Rawley Prize Co-WinnerA New York Times Editor's Choice selection “If many Americans imagine slavery essentially as a system in which black men toiled on cotton plantations, Miles upends that stereotype several times over."—New York Times Book Review The prizewinning, nationally celebrated account of the slave origins of a major northern city

A brilliant paradigm-shifting book that "transports the reader back to the eighteenth century and brings to life a multiracial community that began in slavery" (The New York Times), The Dawn of Detroit reveals for the first time that slavery was at the heart of the Midwest's iconic city. Hailed by Publishers Weekly in a starred review as "a necessary work of powerful, probing scholarship," The Dawn of Detroit meticulously uncovers the experience of the unfree—both native and African American—in a place wildly remote yet at the center of national and international conflict.

Tiya Miles has skillfully assembled fragments of a distant historical record, introducing new historical figures and unearthing struggles that remained hidden from view until now. "In her eloquent account," the Washington Post declared, "Miles conjures up a city of stark disparity and lives quashed."

A message from the past for our troubled present, The Dawn of Detroit is "an outstanding contribution that seeks to integrate the entirety of U.S. history, admirable and ugly, to offer a more holistic understanding of the country" (Booklist, starred review).

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Street Date:
10/03/2017
Language:
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ISBN:
9781620972328
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APA Citation (style guide)

Tiya Miles. (2017). The Dawn of Detroit: A Chronicle of Slavery and Freedom in the City of the Straits. The New Press.

Chicago / Turabian - Author Date Citation (style guide)

Tiya Miles. 2017. The Dawn of Detroit: A Chronicle of Slavery and Freedom in the City of the Straits. The New Press.

Chicago / Turabian - Humanities Citation (style guide)

Tiya Miles, The Dawn of Detroit: A Chronicle of Slavery and Freedom in the City of the Straits. The New Press, 2017.

MLA Citation (style guide)

Tiya Miles. The Dawn of Detroit: A Chronicle of Slavery and Freedom in the City of the Straits. The New Press, 2017. Web.

Note! Citation formats are based on standards as of July 2010. Citations contain only title, author, edition, publisher, and year published. Citations should be used as a guideline and should be double checked for accuracy.
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2018 Frederick Douglass Book Prize Co-Winner
2018 John Hope Franklin Prize Finalist
2018 Zora Neale Hurston/Richard Wright Legacy Award (Nonfiction) Winner
2018 American Book Award Winner
2018 Harriet Tubman Prize Finalist
2018 Merle Curti Social History Award Winner

2018 James A. Rawley Prize Co-Winner
A New York Times Editor's Choice selection
“If many Americans imagine slavery essentially as a system in which black men toiled on cotton plantations, Miles upends that stereotype several times over."
New York Times Book Review

The prizewinning, nationally celebrated account of the slave origins of a major northern city

A brilliant paradigm-shifting book that "transports the reader back to the eighteenth century and brings to life a multiracial community that began in slavery" (The New York Times), The Dawn of Detroit reveals for the first time that slavery was at the heart of the...

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2018 Frederick Douglass Book Prize Co-Winner
2018 John Hope Franklin Prize Finalist
2018 Zora Neale Hurston/Richard Wright Legacy Award (Nonfiction) Winner
2018 American Book Award Winner
2018 Harriet Tubman Prize Finalist
2018 Merle Curti Social History Award Winner

2018 James A. Rawley Prize Co-Winner
A New York Times Editor's Choice selection
“If many Americans imagine slavery essentially as a system in which black men toiled on cotton plantations, Miles upends that stereotype several times over."
New York Times Book Review

The prizewinning, nationally celebrated account of the slave origins of a major northern city

A brilliant paradigm-shifting book that "transports the reader back to the eighteenth century and brings to life a multiracial community that began in slavery" (The New York Times), The Dawn of Detroit reveals for the first time that slavery was at the heart of the Midwest's iconic city. Hailed by Publishers Weekly in a starred review as "a necessary work of powerful, probing scholarship," The Dawn of Detroit meticulously uncovers the experience of the unfree—both native and African American—in a place wildly remote yet at the center of national and international conflict.

Tiya Miles has skillfully assembled fragments of a distant historical record, introducing new historical figures and unearthing struggles that remained hidden from view until now. "In her eloquent account," the Washington Post declared, "Miles conjures up a city of stark disparity and lives quashed."

A message from the past for our troubled present, The Dawn of Detroit is "an outstanding contribution that seeks to integrate the entirety of U.S. history, admirable and ugly, to offer a more holistic understanding of the country" (Booklist, starred review).

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reviews
      • premium: False
      • source: 2018 Frederick Douglass Book Prize Jury
      • content: “Beautifully written and rigorously researched. . . . Throughout this riveting text, personal and family stories illustrate and advance a narrative that rewrites our understanding of slavery in the making of the United States."
      • premium: False
      • source: New York Times Book Review
      • content: “If many Americans imagine slavery essentially as a system in which black men toiled on cotton plantations, Miles upends that stereotype several times over."
      • premium: False
      • source: The Washington Post
      • content: “In her new, groundbreaking history. . . [Miles] has compiled documentation that does for Detroit what the Works Progress Administration and the Federal Writers' Project slave narratives did for other regions, primarily the South."
      • premium: False
      • source: Martha S. Jones in The Chronicle of Higher Education
      • content: “[Tiya Miles] is among the best when it comes to blending artful storytelling with an unwavering sense of social justice."
      • premium: False
      • source: Booklist (starred)
      • content: “Miles' account of the founding and rise of Detroit is an outstanding contribution that seeks to integrate the entirety of U.S. history, admirable and ugly, to offer a more holistic understanding of the country."
      • premium: False
      • source: Publisher Weekly (starred)
      • content: “Historian Miles (Tales from the Haunted South) has written a book that will reorient the focus of early slavery in North America Westward to include Detroit as central to any understanding of the tangled relations of French, English, Euro-Americans, Indians, and Africans on the frontier from the 18th to early 19th century. A necessary work of powerful, probing scholarship."
      • premium: False
      • source: Kirkus Reviews
      • content: “A book likely to stand at the head of further research into the problem of Native and African-American slavery in the north country."
      • premium: False
      • source: Edward Baptist, professor, department of history, Cornell University, and author of The Half Has Never Been Told: Slavery and the Making of American Capitalism
      • content: “In this exemplary history that shows how slavery made early Detroit, Professor Tiya Miles demonstrates that Malcolm X (whose activist father was lynched in Michigan) was right when he insisted that all of the United States is south of the Mason-Dixon Line. Out of careful research, supple prose, deeply humane generosity to her historical subjects, and a knack for uncovering gripping family narratives, Miles has crafted a work from which any reader can learn new things. There is no finer writer among historians than Tiya Miles."
      • premium: False
      • source: Ira Berlin, Distinguished University Professor, University of Maryland, and author of Many Thousands Gone: The First Two Centuries of Slavery in North America
      • content: “'There is currently no historical marker acknowledging slavery in Detroit-- revealing that people were bought, sold, and held as property . . .' Tiya Miles tell us in her rich account, detailing Native American and African American slavery in that city and the surrounding countryside. The Dawn of Detroit is a brilliant telling of chattel bondage's long and twisted history and the evolution of race relations in the . . . City on the Straits."
      • premium: False
      • source: Richard White, Margaret Byrne Professor of American History, Stanford University, and author of The Middle Ground: Indians, Empires, and Republics in the Great Lakes Region, 1650–1815
      • content: “Extracting seemingly lost lives from sparse records to recover the humanity of people regarded as property, Tiya Miles exposes the tenacity of slavery and forced labor, both black and Indian, in multiethnic and multicultural Detroit during the eighteenth and early nineteenth centuries. It is an often ugly--but also a revealing and surprising--story. She creates a pointillist account of a complicated borderland."
      • premium: False
      • source: Walter Johnson, Winthrop Professor of History, Harvard University, and author of Soul by Soul: Life Inside the Antebellum Slave Market
      • content: “The Dawn of Detroit once again demonstrates that Tiya Miles is the rarest sort of historian: a brilliant and humane observer who can build an account of the terrifying difference of the past out of a series of observations that have the plain familiarity of family history."
      • premium: True
      • source: Publisher's Weekly
      • content:

        Starred review from August 7, 2017
        Miles (Tales from the Haunted South), professor of history at the University of Michigan, illuminates an “alternative origin story” of this much-studied city, which was “born of the forced captivity of indigenous and African people.” Detroit prospered from trade in animal skins rather than plantation agriculture, but it was black men who played a dominant role in the transportation of these furs across New France; meanwhile, indigenous women became a sexual resource plundered by French colonists. Miles gracefully recounts Detroit’s first century as it passed from French to British rule. The transition so antagonized local indigenes that in 1763 the Ottawa leader Pontiac launched a rebellion that took the British colonial military months to suppress. Miles emphasizes that even had the Ottawa succeeded, the situation of Detroit’s 1,500 slaves might not have improved. Neither the British nor the fledgling U.S. brought them release, and as nonplantation states turned against chattel slavery, Detroit’s whites and some Native American inhabitants continued to engage in the domestic slave trade. Despite slowly expanding rights, people of color could hope at best for a “hard-won and consistently compromised freedom.” Miles places Detroit’s history in a more expansive frame than its 20th-century boom and decline, emphasizing racial inequalities far in advance of the Great Migration.

      • premium: True
      • source: Library Journal
      • content:

        Starred review from August 1, 2017

        Historian Miles (Tales from the Haunted South) has written a book that will reorient the focus of early slavery in North America Westward to include Detroit as central to any understanding of the tangled relations of French, English, Euro-Americans, Indians, and Africans on the frontier from the 18th to early 19th century. She maintains that slavery was integral to the making of Detroit, as whites relied on enslaved blacks and Native Americans to sustain the city's fur trade and commercial nexus, protect settlements during war, and work nearby lands as settlers expanded their reach in the region. All the while, enslaved blacks resisted their bondage, forging new identities and alliances as they moved or fled back and forth from Detroit to British Canada. Detroit further embodied the contradictions of a nation professing liberty but sanctioning slavery, even where it supposedly was prohibited, as in Michigan under the Northwest Ordinance. Miles concludes that recognizing Detroit as a place of "theft" of human bodies and land is part of a long, sustained history of exploitation that helps define the character of the city to this day. VERDICT A necessary work of powerful, probing scholarship.--Randall M. Miller, St. Joseph's Univ., Philadelphia

        Copyright 2017 Library Journal, LLC Used with permission.

      • premium: True
      • source: Library Journal
      • content:

        August 1, 2017

        Historian Miles (Tales from the Haunted South) has written a book that will reorient the focus of early slavery in North America Westward to include Detroit as central to any understanding of the tangled relations of French, English, Euro-Americans, Indians, and Africans on the frontier from the 18th to early 19th century. She maintains that slavery was integral to the making of Detroit, as whites relied on enslaved blacks and Native Americans to sustain the city's fur trade and commercial nexus, protect settlements during war, and work nearby lands as settlers expanded their reach in the region. All the while, enslaved blacks resisted their bondage, forging new identities and alliances as they moved or fled back and forth from Detroit to British Canada. Detroit further embodied the contradictions of a nation professing liberty but sanctioning slavery, even where it supposedly was prohibited, as in Michigan under the Northwest Ordinance. Miles concludes that recognizing Detroit as a place of "theft" of human bodies and land is part of a long, sustained history of exploitation that helps define the character of the city to this day. VERDICT A necessary work of powerful, probing scholarship.--Randall M. Miller, St. Joseph's Univ., Philadelphia

        Copyright 2017 Library Journal, LLC Used with permission.

      • premium: True
      • source: Kirkus
      • content:

        August 15, 2017
        A history of the Michigan metropolis as a center of the Northern slave trade. "We tend to associate slavery with cotton in the commercial crop heyday of the southern 'cotton kingdom, '" writes MacArthur Fellow Miles (American Culture/Univ. of Michigan; The Cherokee Rose, 2015, etc.), "but in the northern interior space, slavery was yoked to the fur industry." In this connection, slavery enfolded Native Americans, putting individuals in thrall and binding communities in a network of trade obligations. When recently ascendant Americans imposed the Treaty of Detroit in 1807, they cleared several such well-entrenched communities both to create military defenses and to enhance the "processes of surveillance and recapture for American slaveholders" whose property--in this case African-Americans--tended to disappear into Native realms before the advent of the Underground Railroad. African-Americans were also bought and sold in Detroit, Miles writes, though this story is little known and unrecorded by any memorial. Whether those African-Americans were in personal service or worked as trappers or freighters, whether they were claimed by French Canadians, British, or American owners, they were just as unfree as if in New Orleans. Drawing on archival records and a thin scholarly literature, Miles pieces together a story in which African-Americans were used "like railroad cars in a pre-industrial transit system that connected sellers, buyers, and goods." At times, the narrative takes turns that push it away from general readers into the hands of postmodern-inclined academics: "There is perhaps one space in the American-Canadian borderlands in which a radical alterity to colonial and racialized complexity existed." But for the most part, the author's account is accessible to anyone with an interest in local history as well as the larger history of world systems in the time of the Seven Years War and beyond. A book likely to stand at the head of further research into the problem of Native and African-American slavery in the north country.

        COPYRIGHT(2017) Kirkus Reviews, ALL RIGHTS RESERVED.

      • premium: True
      • source: Booklist
      • content:

        Starred review from September 1, 2017
        Miles' account of the founding and rise of Detroit is an outstanding contribution that seeks to integrate the entirety of U.S. history, admirable and ugly, to offer a more holistic understanding of the country. Recipient of a 2011 MacArthur Foundation genius grant and decorated cross-disciplinary professor at the University of Michigan, Miles presents the reality of slavery's foundational role in the City of the Straits. Northern cities, she argues, do not merit their reputations as safe havens for slaves fleeing the south. Native Americans and African Americans were forced to provide essential skills, namely hunting ability and transport labor, in the animal-pelt-driven economy that allowed Euro-Americans to grow roots in Detroit. Miles sets a standard for thoroughness. With scant historical documentation available, she details personal accounts of the lives of the unfree and the political ideologies and actions that affected them. Major events and historical figures from 1760 to 1815 are examined in relation to their consequences for Detroit's enslaved in developments including Pontiac's siege, the American Revolution, the great fire of 1805, the Michigan Territorial Court, black militiamen in the War of 1812, and the lives of Peter and Hannah Denison and their daughter, Elizabeth.(Reprinted with permission of Booklist, copyright 2017, American Library Association.)

subtitle
A Chronicle of Slavery and Freedom in the City of the Straits
popularity
199
publisher
The New Press
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