Paul M. Pressly

Author of A Southern Underground Railroad Black Georgians and the Promise of Spanish Florida and Indian Country

Author Talks
Wednesday, Aug 28 @ 7pm

Not-yet-members. $12.

Members. $6.

Insiders. Free.

Woodruff Auditorium is located inside McElreath Hall. Doors and cash bar will open at 6pm.


Despite its apparent isolation as an older region of the country, the Southeast provided a vital connecting link between the Black self-emancipation that occurred during the American Revolution and the growth of the Underground Railroad in the final years of the antebellum period. From the beginning of the revolutionary war to the eve of the First Seminole War in 1817, hundreds and eventually several thousand Africans and African Americans in Georgia, and to a lesser extent South Carolina, crossed the borders and boundaries that separated the Lowcountry from the British and Spanish in coastal Florida and from the Seminole and Creek people in the vast interior of the Southeast. Even in times of peace, there remained a steady flow of individuals moving south and southwest, reflecting the aspirations of a captive people.

A Southern Underground Railroad constitutes a powerful counter-narrative in American history, a tale of how enslaved men and women found freedom and human dignity not in Jefferson’s “Empire of Liberty” but outside the expanding boundaries of the United States. It is a potent reminder of the strength of Black resistance in the post-revolutionary South and the ability of this community to influence the balance of power in a contested region. Paul M. Pressly’s research shows that their movement across borders was an integral part of the sustained struggle for dominance in the Southeast not only among the Great Powers but also among the many different racial, ethnic, and religious groups that inhabited the region and contended for control.

Cover of A Right Worthy Woman

About the Author

Paul M. Pressly is director of the Ossabaw Island Education Alliance, a partnership between the Board of Regents of the University System of Georgia, the Georgia Department of Natural Resources, and the Ossabaw Island Foundation.

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