Professor Bill Hart Receives Grant for Freeman Research

April 15, 2016

Associate Professor of History William Hart has received a one-month library research grant from the Friends of the Princeton University Library to support research in Princeton’s Rare Books collection during the coming year. This grant will help support his 2016-17 academic leave, when he will be working on a book project titled, “I Am a Man: Martin Freeman and the Cant of Colonization.” Hart’s project uses the life of Martin Freeman, class of 1849, the third African American to enroll at Middlebury College, who served as teacher and president of Liberia College between 1864 and his death in 1889. The research will provide a window onto the nineteenth-century project of racial removal.

To more fully understand Freeman’s desire to emigrate and to explain his struggles in Liberia, Hart will consult a number of primary sources that argue acutely for relocating free African Americans abroad; that explain to American readers the critical work of the American Colonization Society in “saving” African Americans and continental Africa from herself; and that address how to deal with the cultural, political, and financial difficulties faced by colonizationists in Liberia.