Black Fortunes: The Story of the First Six African Americans Who Escaped Slavery and Became Millionaires
— published 2018
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“In 1854, President Franklin Pierce, an anti-abolitionist Democrat, signed the Kansas-Nebraska Act into law, sending slavery’s opponents into a fury. The law, authored by Illinois senator Stephen A. Douglas, created the territories of Kansas and Nebraska but also allowed for the expansion of slavery into the North, where it had been banned since 1819. Slavery would be permitted or banned in Kansas, a northern territory, based on a popular vote among white males in the territory. The law would potentially reintroduce slavery into the North, endangering freedmen and -women and reinforcing slavery’s grip on America. Frederick Douglass and William Lloyd Garrison published angry treatises against it in their papers. On the steps of the courthouse in Peoria, Illinois, a largely unknown politician named Abraham Lincoln gave a three-hour speech decrying the law. “I hate it because of the monstrous injustice of slavery itself. I hate it because it deprives our republican example of its just influence in the world,” he told hundreds of onlookers. Afterward, his Peoria speech became a thing of legend that catapulted him into national prominence.”
“The black beauty industry in the years after slavery ended was dominated by traveling salesmen and beauty companies that sold products to alter the appearance of African Americans to make them look more like white people. Black skin removers, whitening pills, and hair straighteners”
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