Jonathan Daniel Wells, PhD

The Kidnapping Club: Wall Street, Slavery, and Resistance on the Eve of the Civil War

Wells is the author of The Kidnapping: Wall Street, Slavery, and Resistance on the Eve of the Civil War which covers the kidnapping in New York City of free and fugitive Black men, women, and children into slavery long after slavery had been outlawed in the northern states.

[Recorded January 21, 2021.]

Link to Book at Bookstore

History Camp Authors

    America's Summer Roadtrip 2020

      Jonathan Daniel Wells, PhD
      Jonathan Daniel Wells, PhD, ( is a social, cultural, and intellectual historian and a Professor of History in the Departments of Afroamerican and African Studies at the University of Michigan. He is currently a Visiting Scholar at Gonville & Caius College at the University of Cambridge. His published works include The Origins of the Southern Middle Class, Women Writers and Journalists in the Nineteenth-Century South, and A House Divided: The Civil War and Nineteenth-Century America, and Blind No More: African American Resistance, Free-Soil Politics, and the Coming of the Civil War.

      This interest in the relationship between slavery and capitalism has led Wells to a new and exciting book, The New York Kidnapping Club, on self-emancipated African Americans (and the slavecatchers who pursued them) who straddled the thin line between slavery and freedom in the antebellum North. It explores the complicated ways in which ideas about enslavement and freedom competed for public support in northern communities like New York, debates that profoundly shaped politics and culture in the North and the coming of the Civil War.

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